Dottie, Bianca start strong; Saso flounders
Dottie Ardina
Symetra Tour File
Dottie, Bianca start strong; Saso flounders
Dante Navarro (Philstar.com) - September 19, 2020 - 3:17pm

MANILA, Philippines — Veteran Dottie Ardina and rookie Bianca Pagdanganan fashioned out a pair of two-under 70s in practically the same fashion as they trailed Aussie Hannah Green and Cydney Clanton of the US by four at the start of the Cambia Portland Classic of the LPGA Tour in Oregon Friday.

Over in Japan, Yuka Saso hardly recovered from a sputtering start, finishing with a one-over 73 to virtually bow out of the title race after two rounds of the Descente Ladies Tokai Classic now paced by Hiroko Azuma and Ayaka Furue at the Shinminami Country Club in Aichi, Japan Saturday.

Just three strokes off opening day leader Pei-Ying Tsai at the start of the day, Saso wrestled with her driver and irons and bogeyed No. 1 and the par-3 No. 6 of the Mihami course. Though she birdied the par-5 12th to get back to three-under overall, the Fil-Japanese failed to complete her rally and settled for pars for a 38-35 and a 141.

The JLPGA Player of the Year frontrunner tumbled from joint 10th to a share of 26th, now eight strokes behind Azuma and Furue heading to the final 18 holes of the Y80 million event serving as the sixth stop of the LPGA of Japan Tour season.

Azuma matched Tsai’s opening 65 with her own version of a bogey-free 31-34 while Furue also produced a solid 67 as they grabbed the lead at 133s, two strokes ahead of Korean Ji-Hee Lee, who also fired a 65 for a 135, while Tsai slowed down with a 71 and dropped to fourth with a 136.

Ai Suzuki, who shot a 66 Friday, actually took charge with three birdies in the first six holes but the 16-time JLPGA champion faltered with two bogeys against two more birdies but fell to a share of fifth at 137 with Saiki Fujita (71) with a last-hole double-bogey for a 71.

Back in Portland, Ardina and Pagdanganan fumbled with early bogeys coming off a three-week LPGA Tour break but recovered big with four birdies each before dropping a stroke on the par-4 17th in separate flights for a share of 23rd with 14 others, including last week’s ANA Inspiration champion Mirim Lee of South Korea.

Ardina, who tied for 64th in the British Women’s Open and missed the cut at NW Arkansas last month, bounced back strong from an opening-hole bogey with three birdies in a four-hole stretch from No. 4. She drained her fourth birdie from short range on the par-3 13th but yielded the stroke on the 17th to submit a 34-36 card.

The Canlubang pro flourished with her long game, missing just one fairway but missed a couple of birdie chances at the back.
Pagdanganan also stumbled with a bogey on No. 2 but birdied the fifth and rammed in three straight birdies from No. 10 before also dropping a stroke on the difficult 17th for a 36-34 round that lined up the 22-year-old shotmaker for another weekend stint for the fourth straight time in as many starts in the world’s premier circuit.

The ICTSI-backed SEA Games double gold medalist and former Philippine Ladies Open titlist tied for 28th in her maiden tournament in Drive On Championship, struggled for a share of 59th in the Marathon Classic and faded to joint 71st in NW Arkansas.

But the power-hitter is due for a big finish In the $1.75 million event reduced to a 54-hole tournament due to hazardous air quality caused by fires in the Pacific Northwest.
Meanwhile, Green birdied five of the first seven holes then added two more at the back but blew seizing the solo lead with a last-hole bogey, enabling Clanton to gain a share of it on a two-shot swing.

Clanton overcame a bogey on No. 4 with seven birdies, including on No. 18.

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