Yuka Saso enters knockout phase of US women’s am
Dante Navarro (The Philippine Star) - August 8, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Yuka Saso birdied No. 9 to check a wild frontside finish as she matched par 72 and safely made it through the US Women’s Amateur Match Play with a joint 17th place finish in the 36-hole stroke play elims at the Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Mississippi Tuesday.

Saso recovered from a double-bogey mishap on No. 11 with birdies on Nos. 14, 1 and 3 but stumbled with back-to-back bogeys from No. 4, regained a stroke on No. 6 but dropped another shot on the next before closing out with another birdie for a 35-37.

Though her 71-72 effort paled in comparison to her record 12-under 132 in gaining medalist honors in the US Girls’ Junior in Wisconsin two weeks ago, her 143 was more than enough to earn her a spot in the 64-player knockout phase of the world’s premier women’s amateur championship.

Saso, who settled for a semifinal finish in US Girls, ended up at 19th after the tiebreak and will take on No. 46 Kaitlyn Papp, also of the US, who rallied with a 71 for a 146.

Chinese Jiarui Jin also birdied the ninth to shoot a 66 and share medalist honors with American Alexa Pano, who fired a 68, for 138s.

Jin, seeking to complete China’s sweep of the two prestigious USGA-sanctioned tournaments after Lei Ye beat Saso’s tormentor Jillian Bourdage in the finals of the US Girls, took the top seeding and will face No. 64 Emily Hawkins of North Carolina at the start of match play Wednesday.

Pano will square off with No. 63 Remington Isaac of Texas.

Ye, meanwhile, stayed on course for a back-to-back title feat as she strung up rounds of 73-72 for joint 33rd and a first-round knockout duel with Japanese No. 23 Rino Sasaki. Bourdage, however, missed the cut by two strokes.

Saso, who won the Girls Junior PGA crown in Connecticut last month, is priming up for the LPGA Qualifying with the long-hitting Fil-Japanese shotmaker assured of a spot in Stage II owing to her No. 20 ranking in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.

Other Pinays competing in Stage I set to start Aug. 22 in Mission Hills in California are Pauline del Rosario, Chanelle Avaricio and Asian Games bronze medalist Bianca Pagdanganan.

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