Yuka Saso fired a two-under 70 and nailed the individual crown by six while Harmie Constantino carded a third straight 75 as the Philippines beat South Korea by nine for the team championship in the World Junior Girls Championship in Mississaugua, Ontario, Canada Friday (Saturday in Manila).
Saso, who sizzled with a 66 to set her and Team Phl’s campaign in motion Tuesday, capped her superb four-day performance with a three-birdie, one-bogey effort, besting American Jennifer Chang by six with a two-under 286 aggregate in individual play.
“I feel happy and honored to win this trophy and this tournament,” said the 15-year-old Saso, also a winner of a pro tournament back home. “I feel happy (to be gold medalist) because I was not expecting it, this being the first time the Philippines joined this event. Winning with this group is special because we have known each other since we were kids. So it makes me really happy.”
Although Constantino, who started the final round in joint second with three others, ended up tied for fourth at 294, the Filipinas still ran away with the team crown with a 578 total, nine ahead of last year’s champion South Korea, which pooled a 587 after a 146.
“This is the best feeling,” said Constantino, also 15 and a be-medalled player back home. “We can’t describe our feeling because no one expected it. We just played our games and it turned out really well.”
US also assembled a 146 to place third while Italy wound up fourth at 593 and England shot the day’s best 144 to finish fifth at 596.
It was an impressive sweep by the Philippines in this third staging of the event conducted by Golf Canada and supported by the International Golf Federation and R&A with Saso, Constantino and Sofia Legaspi coming into the tournament with slim hopes of contending against some of the leading amateurs in the world.
But after Saso opened with a 66 and Constantino backed her up with a 69, the Philippines, whose campaign was sanctioned by the National Golf Association of the Philippines, took charge of the 16-nation field and didn’t look back.
Saso did sputter in the second round with a 77 and failed to count in the three-to-play, two-to-count event but Legaspi stepped up with a 75 and helped keep the Philippines’ lead midway through the 72-hole championship before the Fil-Japanese rebounded in the third round with a 73.
Legaspi closed out with an 80.