Saso advances in Texas with 70 but Pagdanganan falls

Jan Veran - Philstar.com
Saso advances in Texas with 70 but Pagdanganan falls
Yuka Saso of Japan hits her tee shot on the fifth hole during the final round of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G at Pinnacle Country Club on September 25, 2022 in Rogers, Arkansas.

MANILA, Philippines — Yuka Saso flashed superb putting to salvage a one-under 70 and safely make it to the weekend play of the Ascendant LPGA benefitting Volunteers of America although she stood too far off England’s Charley Hull, who took control by two with a fiery 64 at The Colony, Texas Friday (Saturday in Manila time).

Saso mixed three birdies against two bogeys at the daunting par-71 Old American Golf Club course as she continued to grapple with her driver and irons that saw her miss five fairways and 11 greens, including one that led to a bogey from the greenside bunker. 

But she saved a lot of strokes on a 24-putt performance that lifted her to joint 40th in a field of 80, which made the cut at 145.

But ICTSI teammate Bianca Pagdanganan failed to join the weekend cast with a second 75 in a day when she launched her backside bid with a birdie on No. 13. Like Saso, she struggled from tee-to-green, hitting just six fairways and eight greens. 

Though she finished with 29 putts, the power-hitting shotmaker came undone with a double bogey on No. 14 and three bogeys in the next four holes.

Hull, meanwhile, bucked tough conditions with a near-flawless round of 31-33 marked by eight birdies against a lone bogey as she stormed past Chinese Xiyu Lin with a 36-hole aggregate of 11-under 131.

But Thai Atthaya Thitikul, who edged multi-titled American Danielle Kang in sudden death in last week's NW Arkansas Championship to move to world No. 3, stayed in the hunt for a second straight LPGA crown – and the world No. 1 ranking – with an eagle-spiked 67 as she joined Lin, who carded a 68, at 133 while American Lindy Duncan fired a solid 65 to seize solo fourth at 134.

With Jessica Korda, also of the US, posting a bogey-free 66 for force a three-way tie for fifth at 135 with Dutch Emily Pedersen and Thai Moriya Jutanugarn, who shot 67 and 68, respectively, and New Zealand’s Lydia Ko firing a 66 for a 136, a wild finish looms in the $1.7 million championship.

Other top guns who missed the cut were major champions Sei Young Kim of Korea (67-146), world No. 2 Nelly Korda (72-147) and Hinako Shibuno of Japan (72-148). Brooke Henderson was also on the brink after an opening 76 but the Canadian winner of this year’s Evian Championship battled back with a five-under 66 to barge into joint 35th at 142.

Over in Alabama, Dottie Ardina turned in a bogey-free 69 but fell seven strokes off a hot-starting Robyn Choi of Australia, whose solid 10-under 62, highlighted by a pair of four-birdie binges from Nos. 5 and 13, put her on top by two in the first round of the Toyota Classic of the Epson Tour in Tuscaloosa, also Friday (Saturday, Manila time).

Abby Arevalo missed joining ICTSI teammate Ardina at 17th as she bogeyed the 16th after hitting birdies on Nos. 6, 10 and 14. She dropped to joint 26th but well within the projected cutoff line in the 54-hole, $200,000 tournament at even par.

Clariss Guce, meanwhile, also shot three birdies but fumbled with four bogeys for a 73 while Pauline del Rosario also limped with a 75 on a four-bogey, one-birdie round as the duo faced elimination in the tournament before the season-ending Epson Tour Championship in Florida next week.



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