Weary Saso loosens up for Japan Open drive
Yuka Saso
Weary Saso loosens up for Japan Open drive
Dante Navarro (Philstar.com) - September 21, 2020 - 1:38pm

MANILA, Philippines – After a grueling five-tournament LPGA of Japan Tour campaign the last six weeks that produced two resounding victories, Yuka Saso gets to take the much-needed break to recharge for the second major championship in Fukuoka in two weeks time.

“I think it’s been rumbling all the time. When I leave the (golf) course, I hardly go outside,” said Saso, hinting at reconnecting with her siblings in Tokyo and doing some shopping elsewhere during the respite.

The rookie Fil-Japanese has taken the JLPGA by storm by winning the NEC Karuizawa and Nitori Ladies crowns last month and though she didn’t fare well in her bid for a third crown at Golf5 Ladies and ended up tied at 13th in the circuit’s first major at the JLPGA Championship, she produced a rather inspiring joint eighth effort in last Sunday's Descente Tokai Classic.

She, however, downplayed notions of her being burned out by the weekly top-notch competitions at some of the toughest courses in the region’s premier circuit.

“I don’t really know whether I’m tired (after a series of tournaments),” said the Player of the Year and money race frontrunner. When I walk, the soles of my feet become stiff so I roll the ball and loosen it. When my body gets tired, the swing changes but I don’t want to say I’m tired,” said the 19-year-old wonder.

She also brushed off loose talks that the pressure to deliver again is slowly catching up on her.

“I think pressure is something that everyone feels. But I just love playing golf,” she said. “I enjoyed the game very much and every week it’s a good experience to study. I know what’s wrong and what I need to do (to improve).”

That should make her A-ready for the Y112.5 million Japan Women’s Open slated Oct. 1-4 at the Classic Golf Club in Fukuoka where the ICTSI-backed ace gets to slug it out with the best and the brightest, including 16-time JLPGA winner Ai Suzuki, Earth Mondahmin Cup titlist Ayaka Watanabe, Golf5 Ladies runaway champion Sakura Koiwai, JLPGA Championship victor Saki Nagamine and Descente Tokai Classic winner Ayaka Furue.

Over in the US, Dottie Ardina failed to sustain a scorching backside start and settled for a 71 to finish way down at joint 42nd in the Cambia Portland Classic of the LPGA Tour ruled by Englishwoman Georgia Hall via playoff in Oregon Sunday.

Ardina sizzled with three birdies in the first five holes at the back, jumping from a share of 43rd to joint 21st in that stretch and sparking hopes for the Canlubang pro to produce a creditable finish after ending up tied at 64th in the British Women’s Open and missing the cut at the NW Arkansas Championship.

But she blew it with three straight bogeys from No. 15 and though she hit back with birdies on Nos. 4 and 6, the ICTSI-backed bet holed out with another bogey for a 35-36 card.

She wound up with a 213 for a share of 42nd with eight others worth $6,867.

Bianca Pagdanganan, who matched Ardina’s 70 and 72 cards in the first two rounds to join her compatriot in the final round flight with American Andrea Lee, missed equaling her compatriot’s closing card with a bogey and double-bogey finish. She limped with a 74 and tumbled to joint 64th and received $3628.

Meanwhile, Hall bogeyed the 72nd hole in regulation for a 68 to fall into a playoff with Ashleigh Buhai but parred the second playoff hole to nip the South African for the crown. Buhai rallied with a 65 to earn a shot at the crown but failed to extend the duel with a bogey.

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