Saso falters but gains as Chun edges closer to Women's PGA Championship crown

Jan Veran - Philstar.com
Saso falters but gains as Chun edges closer to Women's PGA Championship crown
Yuka Saso of Japan putts on the 18th green during the third round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Congressional Country Club on June 25, 2022 in Bethesda, Maryland.

MANILA, Philippines — Yuka Saso missed pulling within striking distance with a bogey-bogey finish but her 73 moved her to joint 12th, seven strokes behind Korean In Gee Chun, who stayed three shots clear of Lexi Thompson and two others despite a 75 in the third round of the Women’s PGA Championship in Bethesda, Maryland Saturday (Sunday, Manila time).

Saso failed to get untracked in a day of tough scoring at the Congressional Country Club course but overcame a two-bogey, one-birdie card after 14 holes with back-to-back birdies from the next to jump from joint 14th to a share of sixth. But she missed a golden chance to gain some ground as she bogeyed the last two holes.

The ICTSI-backed ace, who started the pivotal round nine shots behind Chun, pooled a 215 to improve two rungs from her previous spot, joining her fellow big guns, including world No. 1 Jin Young Ko, Swede Anna Nordqvist and American Jessica Korda, who all fired 71s, and Angel Yin of the US and two-time major winner Lydia Ko of New Zealand, who fumbled with similar 73s.

They also gained from Chun’s shaky windup of a bogey and double bogey from No. 15 but the Korean’s worst card (37-38) in three day after dominating the first 36 holes with 64 and 69 still enabled her to hold on to a three-stroke lead heading to the final 18 holes of the season’s third major which stakes a top $1.3 million purse from the total prize fund of $9 million.

Saso continued to struggle with her long game, missing five fairways , and iron play, hitting just 12 greens. But her 30-putt showing kept her chances for at least a Top 10 finish alive after missing the cut in the last two LPGA events, including the US Women’s Open, which she ruled in playoff fashion in San Francisco last year.

Bianca Pagdanganan, meanwhile, groped for a 76 after a 74 and 73 as she fell to joint 64th at 223. She ended up 15 strokes behind Chun.

The Korean, seeking a third major title after winning the US Open in 2015 and the Evian Championship the following year, battled back from a two-over card after 11 holes with birdies on the next and on No. 14. But after yielding another stroke on No. 15, she hit an errant shot into a hedge on the par-5 16th that led to her first double-bogey in the week.

That also enabled Thompson of the US and compatriots Hye Jin Choi, who both shot 70s, and Sei Young Kim, who carded a 71, to close within three with identical 211s while Aussie Hannah Green pooled a 212 after a 72.

Thai sensation Atthaya Thitikul fired a 68 to lead the 213 scorers, who included Canadian Brooke Henderson and American Jennifer Chang, who turned in similar 73s.



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