YUKA Saso was outplayed by steady-hitting Japanese golfer Nao Ohbayashi in the IMG Academy Junior World on Friday in San Diego, California (Saturday Manila time).
Ohbayashi turned an overnight three-stroke deficit into a four-stroke victory at Torrey Pines North, sinking a 28-foot birdie putt on the third hole, another from 35 feet on the 10th and a 40-footer to save par on the 15th.
Saso settled for the runner-up trophy a year after placing third.
Bernice Ilas fired a 74 as the Philippines finished third behind Chinese-Taipei and Japan.
Mikha Fortuna tied for 15th while Ilas wound up tied for 30th in individual play.
Yuka three-putted for a bogey on No. 10 while Obayahashi made that long putt for a two-shot swing.
“She made the putts and I didn’t. It really wasn’t for me I guess, I’ll just keep trying, I have one more year left,” said Saso.
“I wish I could have played better but that’s golf, a lot of things happen in every hole that can turn for or against you.”
While the Philippines ended up without a win for the third straight year, Obayashi delivered Japan’s sixth title, the most wins by a foreign team since the event started 50 years ago.
“We will assess the performance our boys and girls when we return from our summer stints here and see how we can improve further,” said Junior Golf Foundation of the Philippines president Bobbet Bruce. a