MIYAZAKI – Miho Koga benefited from another late meltdown by Yuri Fudo to successfully defend the season-ending Japan LPGA Tour Championship on Sunday, clinching the money rankings title in the process.
Koga overturned a five-shot deficit to beat Fudo by two shots here last year and the 26-year-old was unable to conceal her shock as Fudo lost the plot again on the 18th to hand Koga her fourth title of the season.
Koga leapfrogged South Korean Lee Ji Hee and Sakura Yokomine to finish top of the money list for the first time after a 4-under-par 68 saw her win the 11th tournament of her career with a 6-under 282 total.
Fudo finished a shot back alongside South Korea’s Jeon Mi Jeong, who was also guilty of squandering a great chance to claim the ¥25 million winner’s check.
Teeing off three shots off the pace, Koga made four birdies against two bogeys before finishing her round with birdies on the 17th and 18th at Miyazaki Country Club.
But she was forced to endure a nervous wait as the drama unfolded with Fudo and Jeon still on the course.
Jeon saw her lead cut when she bogeyed after finding the trees on the 17th and then got into trouble in a bunker and double-bogeyed the 18th to blow her chance of the title.
Fudo was then left with the routine task of finding the cup from just under four feet for birdie on the last but was left to rue what might have been as the six-time money title winner made a hash of it and three-putted for bogey.
“This feels like a miracle,” said Koga, who could not bring herself to watch Fudo on the 18th green. “I feel like there was some other force at work out there. I am so lucky.”
“I did my best in the belief that I would be able to turn the deficit around and win but I really didn’t actually think it would happen. I have never felt so excited in my life and this has not sunk in yet,” she added.
Oda wins first title
GEISEI , Kochi Pref. (Kyodo) Komei Oda earned his first career title and Ryo Ishikawa etched his name in the history books once again by becoming the youngest golfer on the Japanese tour to reach ¥100 million in single-year winnings at the Casio World Open on Sunday.
Oda, playing in his sixth season on the tour, shot an even-par 72 in the final round as he coasted to a wire-to-wire victory at 11-under 277 at Kochi Kuroshio Country Club.
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