Yuka Saso caught fire toward the end, but ran out of holes in pursuit of Jodi Ewart Shadoff who completed a wire-to-wire victory in the LPGA Mediheal Championship in Somis, California Sunday.
The 20-year-old Filipino-Japanese blitzed home with four birdies in the last five holes to close with six-under-par 66, losing to Shadoff by a single stroke on 14-under 274.
It was Saso’s best showing this season, eclipsing her third-place finish at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions last January.
Starting the day six shots behind Shadoff, Saso birdied the second hole but returned the stroke on 5. He birdied the par-5 sixth hole and eagled the par-5 eighth to reach the turn on three-under.
A bogey on 11 brought her number to 10-under, but Saso responded with birdies on 14, 16, 17 and 18.
“I made some putts. I gave myself a chance,” Saso said.
“I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and have fun.”
Shadoff captured her first career LPGA title by firing a 71 to finish 72 holes on 15-under 273 for a one-stroke victory at The Saticoy Club.
The 34-year-old Briton made her victory breakthrough in her 246th career LPGA start.
“Surreal,” Shadoff said of the feeling. “I’ve waited a long time for this. There have been many times in my career I didn’t think this was ever going to happen so really grateful in this moment.”
Japan’s Yuka Saso made a late charge to shoot 66 and finish second on 274 with fast-closing Georgia Hall of England, late co-leader Paula Reto of South Africa and American Danielle Kang sharing third on 275.
World No. 93 Shadoff had not won a title in 12 LPGA seasons but was third at June’s ShopRite Classic, her best result since a runner-up effort at the 2017 British Women’s Open.
After battling injuries and self-doubt, Shadoff can finally say she’s an LPGA champion.
“I’ve been through a lot in the past couple of years, injuries, and last year was really tough. I found it a pretty significant mental challenge to get through that,” Shadoff said.
“There were times during last year I didn’t think I would be playing this year so to be stood here today is really awesome. I didn’t give up on myself. I have a lot to be grateful for.”
Shadoff began the day after a restless night with a four-stroke lead but bogeys at the third and at the par-3 ninth after a birdie at the par-5 eighth left her in a fight for the crown.
“That four-shot lead quickly diminished,” she said. “I tried to stay in the moment and commit to every shot I was hitting.”
She responded with birdies at the 12th and par-5 14th and parred her way to the clubhouse, claiming the trophy with a tap-in par at 18.
“That last one-footer felt like 20 feet to me,” Shadoff said.
Reto, who won her first LPGA title in August at the Canadian Women’s Open, birdied four of the first eight holes and seized the lead and another birdie at 14 kept her level with Shadoff late but bogeys at 16 and 17 dropped her two adrift and that’s where she finished.
“Good start, which was nice,” Reto said.
“When I got to the back nine I started slowing down and a couple shots got away from me.”
Hall birdied five of the last seven holes and both par-5 holes on the front nine to shoot 65, but couldn’t deny her compatriot the crown.
“I was really pleased the way I finished,” Hall said.
“I’ve always had good chances at birdies.”