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Pagdanganan fights back with 70 but Saso stumbles in Lotte golf tiff

Jan Veran - Philstar.com
Pagdanganan fights back with 70 but Saso stumbles in Lotte golf tiff
Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan

MANILA, Philippines – Bianca Pagdanganan checked a wild start with a solid backside finish to churn out a two-under 70, while Dottie Ardina matched par 72 as they made up for Yuka Saso’s so-so 73 in the afternoon wave at the start of the Lotte Championship in Oahu, Hawaii Wednesday (Thursday, Manila time).

Like Pagdanganan and Ardina, Aussie Hannah Green took advantage of her early tee-time, rattling off eight birdies against two bogeys to take command with a 66, a shot ahead of Korean Hyo Joo Kim, India’s Aditi Ashok, American Alison Lee and Scot Gemma Dryburgh, who all carded 67s at the Hoakelei Country Club in Ewa Beach.

Pagdanganan, who missed the cut in her last LPGA event in the JTBC Classic three weeks ago, appeared headed for another challenging day after blowing a birdie start with a bogey on the next and a double-bogey on No. 3. But she picked herself up just as quickly, birdying two of the next three holes then rebounding from another miscue on the ninth with three birdies at the back for a 37-33.

She jumped from the middle of the starting field, which was reduced to 142 following the withdrawal of multi-titled Danielle Kang and Korean Yaeeun Hong due to injury, to joint 13th. She joined the company of French Celine Boutier, Mexico’s Maria Fassi, American Brittany Altomare and Swede Anna Nordqvist.

The power-hitting ICTSI-backed campaigner settled for a 280-yard driving norm and hit 10 fairways and 14 greens while finishing with 29 putts, including three one-putts on Nos. 10, 12 and 17, that steered her into early contention in the $2 million championship, four strokes off Green.

Starting at the backside, Ardina mixed two bogeys against the same number of birdies in the first four holes and fumbled with two more bogeys against two birdies for a 35-37 that put her at joint 49th with German Sophia Popov, Ireland’s Leona Maguire and veterans Cristie Kerr and Brittany Linlicome of the US, among others.

Drawing a late start, Saso ran off six straight pars at the front then birdied the seventh, only to yield the stroke one the next before holing out with a par for a 36. But she hit an errant shot on the par-4 10th, leading to a double-bogey then the reigning US Women’s Open champion snapped another run of pars with a birdie on the closing par-5 hole to improve to joint 65th with a 36-37 card.

Saso struggled all day coming off a long break, hitting just eight fairways on a 271-yard driving clip and missing six greens. She also finished with 30 putts to trail Green by seven.

Over in the Women’s All Pro Tour in Texas, Abby Arevalo made the cut despite a four-over 75 but her 147 aggregate dropped her seven strokes behind joint leaders Kaeli Jones of the US and Aussie Julianne Alvarez halfway through the Wichita Falls Championship, also Wednesday.

Arevalo, who carded a 72 at the par-71 Wichita Falls Country Club Tuesday, birdied No. 12 but the former Philippine Ladies Open champion, whose campaign is backed by ICTSI, failed to get up-and-down in three of the next four par-4s and made the backside turn a 38. She gained a stroke on No. 2 but bogeyed the seventh for that 74.

Clare Legaspi, however, missed the cut pegged at 152 with a 154 after a second 77.

Jones and Alvarez matched 70s for the second straight day to stay on top with 140s, two strokes clear of American Loretta Giovannettone, who fumbled with a 72 for a 142.

BIANCA PAGDANGANAN

DOTTIE ARDINA

GOLF

YUKA SASO

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