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Saso ties for 12th in final US Open buildup

Jan Veran - Philstar.com
Saso ties for 12th in final US Open buildup
Yuka Saso of Japan walks the 1st fairway during the final round of the Cognizant Founders Cup at Upper Montclair Country Club on May 15, 2022 in Clifton, New Jersey.
Sarah Stier / Getty Images / AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Three weeks before her defense of the US Women’s Open crown, Yuka Saso has made some progress coming off a string of mediocre finishes.

Saso rallied from the brink to salvage joint 12th in the Cognizant Founders Cup won by Aussie Minjee Lee in Clifton, New Jersey Sunday (Monday, Manila time).

Blasting awesome drives and superb second shots, Saso eagled two of the first three par-5s (Nos. 2 and 12) of the Upper Montclair Country Club course on her way to a 68 as she finished tied at 12th at 279 with four others in the $3 million event serving as her final tune-up for the US Women’s Open on June 2-5 in North Carolina.

She looked headed to crashing into the Top 10 after birdying the 13th for a running five-under card but fell back with bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 before holing out with another birdie for a pair of 34s.

Still, it was an impressive finish for the ICTSI-backed ace, who faced early elimination with an opening 73 but struck back from the back of the pack to joint 37th with a second round 68. Saso improved to a share of 25th with a 70 Saturday (Sunday in Manila) then closed out with that 70 to tie Kiwi world No. 3 Lydia Ko, who fired a 67, Americans Lauren Stephenson and Mina Harigae, who matched 70s, and Finland’s Sanna Nuutinen, who carded a 71. Each received $46,366 (P2.4 million).

Saso thus matched her best finish in the Honda LPGA Thailand after ending a 22-tournament run of weekend appearances with a missed cut stint in the LPGA Drive On Championship in Florida last February.

Skipping next week’s LPGA Match Play in Las Vegas, the world No. 14 said she will use the break to polish her putting and work on gaining more consistency off the tee.

“I’m really excited to defend my title,” said Saso, who beat Japanese Nasa Hataoka on the third playoff hole to snare the premier major championship in San Francisco last year worth $1 million and five-year LPGA membership status.

Meanwhile, Bianca Pagdanganan, who started out at joint fourth with a big opening 66, wound up tied at 22nd at 281 after a 70 marked by five birdies, including three straight from No. 12, against three bogeys.

She joined Saso’s group after No. 14 but bogeyed two of the last four holes. She pocketed $27,587 (P1.4 million).

Dottie Ardina, on the other hand, failed to rebound from a wobbly backside start of three straight bogeys from No. 11. She shot three birdies but made two more bogeys for a 74 and a 288. She finished tied for 64th and received $6,805 (P360,000).

Lee turned in her worst round of 70 after a 67-63-69 but it proved enough to net her the championship on 269 total worth $450,000. She beat Lexi Thompson by two after the American closed out with a second straight 69 for a 271.

Angel Yin of the US charged back with a 67 to salvage a share of third place with Swede Madelene Sagstrom, who matched par 72, at 272.

GOLF

YUKA SASO

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