Yuka Saso all set for another title romp.
Saso nears title repeat with 2nd 70
Dante Navarro (Philstar.com) - February 20, 2019 - 6:03pm

MANILA, Philippines – Unable to hit her scoring target, Yuka Saso still succeeded in seizing the solo lead with a second 70 as Thai Yosita Khawnuna and Mafy Singson wavered, enabling the Asian Games gold medalist to move closer to scoring a title repeat in the Champion Philippine Ladies Amateur Open crown at the Manila Golf and Country Club.

Saso had looked forward to making up for her putting struggle in the first round that enabled Khawnuna and Singson to gain a piece of the lead but though she drilled in a couple of long putts and wound up with four birdies Wednesday, she still failed to better her previous output with three bogeys on errant drives.

“My putting was good enough but I know I can still be better,” said the Fil-Japanese ace, who birdied the opening hole for the second straight day and added three more on Nos. 7 (10 feet), 9 (20 feet) and 18 (two feet).

She, however, failed to return a five-footer for par on No. 3 and bogeyed Nos. 4 and 8 while missing two birdie opportunities.

But her second 70 proved enough to net her the solo lead at 140 as Khawnuna succumbed to pressure and ended up with a 73 to drop to solo second at 143.

Worse was Singson, who limped with an 80 to tumble to joint fifth with Taiwanese Sung You-chuan (74) and Inagaki Nanako of Japan (72) at 150, now 10 strokes off the pace in the event presented by Champion and sponsored by Hana Shampoo, EVA Air, San Miguel Corp. and Diamond Motor Corp.

Thai Wannasaen Chanattee and Sofia Chabon matched Saso’s 70 to wrest solo third at 144 and fourth at 145, respectively. But the duo will have a lot of catching up to earn a shot at the crown given the form and confidence of the field’s most fancied player, who moved 18 holes away from retaining the crown she won by two of Mikha Fortuna at the Orchard last year.

“There will be pressure tomorrow (Thursday) but I would be fine if I can hole in birdies,” said the 17-year-old Saso.

Unlike Saso, Khawnuna and Singson wavered when the going got tough with the Thai finishing with two birdies against two bogeys and a double bogey and the Filipina bet struggling for form all throughout.

“My putting and irons weren’t good,” said Khawnuna, still hopeful of putting it all together in another duel with Saso in the final round of the event organized and conducted by the Women’s Golf Association of the Philippines.

Natthakritta Vongtaveelap, also from Thailand, fought back with a 73 but still stood too way off at 151 in a tie with Eagle Ace Superal, who carded a 75, while Nicole Abelar shot a 75 for a 152 and Rianne Malixi and last week’s W Express RVF Cup winner Junia Gabasa struggled with identical 78s for 153 and 154, respectively.

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