Pagdanganan rebounds, Saso flounders in Palos Verdes golf opener

Jan Veran - Philstar.com
Pagdanganan rebounds, Saso flounders in Palos Verdes golf opener
Bianca Pagdanganan and Yuka Saso

MANILA, Philippines – Bianca Pagdanganan sprang back from a wobbly start and salvaged a one-over 72. Yuka Saso hardly recovered and faced another early exit with a 75 at the start of the Palos Verdes Championship in California Thursday (Friday, Manila time).

Aussie Minjee Lee dominated the par-71 Palos Verdes Golf Club course with solid shotmaking, coming away with eight birdies for a 63 on a 24-putt performance, while world No. 1 Jin Young Ko rattled off six straight birdies from No. 2 and bounced back from a miscue on the par-3 13th with birdies on Nos. 15 and 18 for a 64.

With Charley Hull, Moriya Jutanugarn and Jennifer Chang firing identical 65s, Gemma Dryburgh and Albane Valenzuela carding 66s and a slew of others putting in 67s and 68s, a shootout looms in the next three days of the $1.5 million championship at Palos Verdes Estates.

But the long-hitting ICTSI-backed bets are out of the chasing pack in the early going of the 72-hole event after a backside struggle although Pagdanganan rebounded from bogeys on Nos. 15, 17, 1 and 4 with three birdies in a four-hole stretch from No. 6.

But her strong finish and a 35-37 card could only lift her to joint 80th, a stroke below the projected cutoff score.

Saso, eager to get going after a big closeout in last week’s DIO Implant Open, found the Palos Verdes’ backnine not to her liking, falling behind early with four straight bogeys from No. 13. She checked the skid with back-to-back birdies from No. 18 and 1 but made three straight bogeys again in a four-hole stretch from No. 3 before birdying the last par-5 (No. 7) hole for a 37-38.

The reigning US Women’s Open champion dropped to a share of 121st in a starting field of 144 and in danger of missing the weekend play of the first of three tournaments before she defends her crown on June 2-5 in North Carolina.

Pagdanganan blasted in a day’s best 298-yard driving norm but missed six fairways, went 13-of-18 on greens in regulation and finished with 31 putts, including two sand saves. 

Meanwhile, Saso, who failed to advance for the first time at LPGA Drive On last February after making it to the final round in 22 straight tournaments, put to naught a superb stint off the mound where she went 13-of-14 as she grappled with her irons and missed seven greens, including two off the bunkers which she failed to rescue.
She also struggled with 33 putts.




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