by Kristel Satumbaga
Yuka Saso’s run of blowout wins in the 71st US Girls Junior Golf Championships came to an end on Friday after yielding to Jillian Bourdage, 2-up, in the semifinals at Sentryworld in Wisconsin.
After her breezy wins in the previous rounds, the Asian Games double-gold medal winner nearly pulled off a come-from-behind win after rallying from a two-shot down to tie Bourdage on the 16th.
But Bourdage refused to be intimidated as she birdied the last two holes to escape with the win, leaving the top-seeded Saso in utter disappointment.
On the par-4 17th, Bourdage gunned down a 16-foot birdie putt before sealing the win a six-foot birdie – thanks to a solid approach shot.
Despite the loss, Saso matched her best performance in a match-play event since reaching the Final Four of the 2016 US Women’s Amateur.
She advanced to the semis with a 2-up win over Rose Zhang.
Her earlier wins came at the expense of Kaylee Sakoda, 6 and 4; Phoebe Brinker, 3 and 2; and Anne Chen, 5 and 4.
She grabbed the top seeding after ruling the two-round stroke-play event with a bogey-free 12-under 132 total.
The multi-titled Saso is hoping to lead the country to another successful campaign in the SEA Games which the country will be hosting later this year.
The golf competition in the biennial event will be held at the Luisita golf club.