Saso slips to solo 3RD
Yuka Saso hits her tee shot on the 12th hole during the third round of the LPGA Lotte Championship in Kapolei, Hawaii Friday.

Saso slips to solo 3RD

Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - April 18, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — After a hot 64-64 start, Yuka Saso slowed down with a one-under 71 Friday to find herself down by four against new leader Lydia Ko heading into the final round of the LPGA Lotte Championship in Oahu, Hawaii.

The 19-year-old Fil-Japanese stumbled in the front nine and made four bogeys, including three in the first five holes, against three birdies, allowing Ko, her flight mate, to gain momentum and surge to the top in the penultimate round at Kapolei Golf Club.

One over at the turn, Saso recovered with a bogey-free two-under in the back nine to finish with a subpar round and go 17-under 199 through 54 holes.

“I just stuck to my plan, have fun and learn everyday,” said Saso

Ko, former world No. 1 and two-time major winner, submitted a 65 for the day for a leading 21-under 195.

American Nelly Korda stood between Ko and Saso in the leaderboard. Korda’s 63 put her in solo second and just one adrift at 20-under 196.

Irish Leona Maguire, who fired an eagle-aided 65, occupied fourth spot and trailed the Philippines’ pride by one.

Saso started the day on the wrong foot as she three-putted the first hole for bogey while Ko made a birdie to draw level for the tournament.

The 2020 PSA Athlete of the Year bounced back with a birdie on No. 2 only to drop shots again in the fourth, fifth and eighth holes. She got back on track with birdies in Nos. 7 and 9 then fired two more (14 and 17) heading home to stay in contention.

Ko carded seven birdies to stay ahead of Korda, who had nines of 30-33.

“I obviously didn’t go on a flying start compared to the two days before today,” said Ko, who fired 67-63 in the first two rounds.

“I stayed patient,” she added. “I felt like I had a few good looks at birdies that just didn’t drop. When it’s that kind of day I think you just have to be committed and do a good job.”

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