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Thailand’s Apichaya Yubol pounced on Yuka Saso’s backside meltdown and rallied from three down with nine holes left then checked her own collapse at the finish with a closing birdie to nip the Filipino-Japanese amateur by one with a 71 for the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) Manila Golf Ladies Classic crown at the Manila Golf Club (MGC) on Friday.
Yubol cashed in on Saso’s four-birdie stumble in a five-hole stretch from No. 12 to grab the lead then recovered from a bogey on the 17th with a clutch putt from 10 feet to clinch the crown as Saso cracked under pressure and fell short of her playoff bid from eight feet on the 18th for a 72.
It was a stirring triumph for Yubol, who tied Saso with a 68 after 36 holes but never got discouraged even after the reigning Asian Games gold medalist threatened to blow up the field with a solid three-under card after 10 holes to lead by three.
Taiwanese amateur Tzu-Yi Chang—the surprise second-round leader—reeled back with back-to-back bogeys from No. 2, but wheeled back into contention after Saso floundered, only to fade with bogeys in the last two holes for a 75.
“I’m very happy but it’s quite surprising [to win]. I really didn’t expect to win [since] this is my first time here and I’m not familiar with the course,” said Yubol, who pooled a four-under 209 total in the 54-hole championship co-sanctioned by the Ladies Professional Golf Association of Taiwan and Ladies Philippine Golf Tour (LPGT) and pocketed the top $17,500 prize out of the total pot of $100,000 put up by ICTSI.
Yubol’s victory also underscored Thailand’s domination of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc. She joined compatriots Yupaporn Kawinpakorn (Pradera Verde) and Thanutra Boonraksasat (Southwoods) in the winners’ circle with six legs left in the seventh season of the LPGT.