Yuka Saso, Bianca Pangdanganan reunite in US Women's Open
Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan

Yuka Saso, Bianca Pangdanganan reunite in US Women's Open

Dante Navarro (Philstar.com) - December 1, 2020 - 2:11pm

MANILA, Philippines – They last played together in 2018, anchoring Team Philippines’ breakthrough gold medal romp in the Asian Games in Jakarta with Yuka Saso winning the individual gold and Bianca Pagdanganan bagging the bronze. In the next eight days, the power-hitting pair would be meeting again — not as teammates though but as fellow competitors in the US Women’s Open.

But unless they dish out games that would merit spots in the leaderboard, Saso and Pagdanganan could be just two of the 156 players who have made it to the exempt list of what has long been considered as the world’s premier ladies championship for its lore, cast, prize money and history.

Pagdanganan, 23, clinched a spot by placing joint ninth in the last LPGA Tour major, the Women’s PGA Championship in Pennsylvania last October while LPGA of Japan Tour stalwart and world No. 48 Saso is one of the 28 who earned their way into the fabled event through the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.

The ICTSI-backed power hitters are sure thrilled to be slugging it out with the best in the world and a slew of young, rising international stars but more than the excitement, it is the rare chance to showcase their talent and skills before the world's biggest golf stage that drives and motivates them to outdo themselves in the historic 75th staging of the event.

The cream of the world ladies pro crop are all primed up for the $5.5 million event firing off December 10 at the Champions Club in Houston, Texas, including the top five — Jin Young Ko and Sei Young Kim of Korea, Americans Nelly Korda and Danielle Kang, and Korean In Bee Park and defending champion Jeongeun Lee6, also of Korea.

Saso, 19, has just wrapped up her JLPGA rookie campaign, finishing second in the Players’ ranking after 14 events although the Tour said it would still add some tournaments early next year to make up for the cancellation of a number of championships this year due to pandemic. Results of the additional tournaments will also offer ranking points, giving the likes of the Fil-Japanese ace chances to still go for top honors.

Saso’s fellow JLPGA campaigners are also joining the Houston joust, including leading player Ayaka Furue, two-time major winner Erika Hara, Sakura Koiwai, Yuna Nishimura, Eri Okayama, Teresa Lu and Lala Anai.

Pagdanganan, on the other hand, is vying in the Volunteers of America Classic set December 3-6 in The Colony, also in Texas, as part of her buildup for the US Open, originally set last June but was moved to next week due to the global health crisis.

To account for the expected reduced daylight during winter, the US Women’s Open organizers said they are tapping the Jackrabbit Course at Champions Club in the first two rounds along with the Cypress Creek Course, which was originally slated to host all four rounds of championship play.

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