Olympic opening round pairings for Yuka, Bianca known

Nelson Beltran - Philstar.com
Olympic opening round pairings for Yuka, Bianca known
Bianca Pagdanganan and Yuka Saso

TOKYO – Yuka Saso launches her Olympic quest in an exciting showdown right away, with the US Open champ being paired with LPGA stars Lexi Thompson and Brooke Henderson in the 8:25 a.m. flight in the opening round Wednesday of the keenly awaited women’s golf competition.

Bianca Pagdanganan is in three groups ahead with Leona Maguire and Matilda Castren — also among the solid flights to start what could be a mad, mad rumble amidst the tough challenges at the Kasumigaseki Country Club.

TRACKER: Team Philippines at the Tokyo Olympics

The field features the cream of the crop in the LPGA tour, including Koreans Inbee Park and Ko Jin Young, Japanese, Nasa Hataoka and Inami Mone, Americans Thompson and Nelly Korda, Canada’s Henderson and Alena Sharp, Swedes Anna Nordqvist and Madelene Sagstrom, and many more.

Then there’s the Filipina duo that are as raring as anyone to bang away amidst all the challenges offered by the Olympic golf for one of the most coveted gold medals in offer in the closing days of the Tokyo Games.

“I don’t know how much more excited I could be than very excited,” said Pagdaganan in an lpga.com report.

“I made it a goal of mine to represent the Philippines when they brought golf back in 2016. I just didn’t think I’d be able to reach it this quick especially since I wasn’t even a part of the Rolex Rankings,” she added.

Being the reigning US Women’s Open champ and a two-leg titlist in the Japan Tour, Saso is among those considered as the golfer to watch.

But she won’t rely on her previous performances to guide her through her first games, choosing to instead glean what she can from the talent pool that will be around her.

“I think it will be a different experience compared to majors because I never really thought or watched golf in the Olympics. I watched Rio,” said Saso. “But I think it's a good chance to meet different athletes from different countries and learn from them, too.”

The Pinay golfers are among the brightest medal hopes of Team Philippines, with their skills, talent and experience.

Before her big triumphs in the Japan Tour and in the LPGA, Saso had produced a double-gold for the Philippines in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.

Pagdanganan was part of the Philippine champion team in the 2018 Asiad and had her version of a double-gold (team and individual) in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in Luisita.

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