Pagdanganan sizzles, Saso struggles in Olympic golf debuts

Luisa Morales - Philstar.com
Pagdanganan sizzles, Saso struggles in Olympic golf debuts
Philippines' Bianca Pagdanganan watches her drive from the 1st tee in round 1 of the women’s golf individual stroke play during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe on August 4, 2021.

MANILA, Philippines — It was contrasting results for the Philippines in the first round of women's individual stroke play at the Tokyo Olympics, with Bianca Pagdanganan and Yuka Saso on the opposite ends of the leaderboard.

Pagdanganan sizzled under the Japan heat at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Saitama, firing off five birdies against two bogeys to finish with a 69 in the 71-par course in the opening round.

TRACKER: Team Philippines at the Tokyo Olympics

This put her firmly at pace to contend for a medal, finding herself at joint-seventh place after all golfers finished Wednesday, and just three strokes behind leader Madelene Sagstrom of Sweden.

The 23-year-old had a fiery start where she had three birdies in the first five holes, but was doused with a bogey in the fourth.

Pagdanganan continued firing birdies in the back nine with two in Holes 14 and 16, but bogeys in Holes 11 and 15 evened it out.

Meanwhile, US Women's Open champ Saso appeared to struggle as she finished in the red, with a 3-over par performance for a 74.

Saso stumbled early with two bogeys against one birdie in the front nine.

Things only continued to go downhill for the Fil-Japanese golfer in the back nine with three bogeys and just one birdie at Hole 14 to salvage the +3 finish.

Saso's campaign seemed to absorb a hit shortly before competition started as her regular caddy suffered a heatstroke and had to be replaced by Coach Mikko Alejandro.

The 20-year-old will have a lot of ground to make up for in the following rounds, ending Wednesday at joint-47th in the leaderboard

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