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Saso bows out of LPGA chase with 2nd 70; Ardina, 2 others advance in Epson Tour

Jan Veran - Philstar.com
Saso bows out of LPGA chase with 2nd 70; Ardina, 2 others advance in Epson Tour
Yuka Saso of Japan hits her tee shot on the fourth 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.
ANDY LYONS / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

MANILA, Philippines — Yuka Saso failed to make headway in moving day with a second straight 70 as she slipped two spots farther back to joint 42nd and out of the title chase in the Ascendant LPGA benefitting Volunteers of America bracing for a thrilling finish at The Colony, Texas Saturday (Sunday, Manila time).

England’s Charley Hull birdied No. 15 to match par at the par-71 Old American course, barely staying at the helm as Xiyu Lin missed regaining the solo lead with a bogey on the 16th for a 69 as the duo pooled 202s, just a stroke ahead of the charging pair of Celine Boutier of France and multi-titled Kiwi Lydia Ko, whose 66 and 67, respectively, tied them at 203.

Canadian Maddie Szeryk also fought back with a four-under card to seize solo fifth at 204 while Korean So Yeon Ryu and Thais Moriya Jutanugarn and Atthaya Thitikul posted identical 205s to guarantee a spirited battle for top honors in the last 18 holes of the $1.7 million championship.

Ryu, a two-time major winner like Ko, shot a second straight 68, Jutanugarn birdied Nos. 15 and 16 to save a 70, while Thitikul fumbled with a 72 but still remained in the hunt for a second straight championship — and the world No. 1 ranking — following a playoff victory over American Danielle Kang in the NW Arkansas Open last week.

Saso had looked to gain on the frontrunners after safely making it to the weekend play with a 70 Friday despite a day-long struggle from tee to green spiked as she dished out a 24-putt performance. She still missed six fairways and seven greens in the pivotal round but made five more putts than the previous round that hardly helped her bid. She totaled 213 and fell 11 strokes off Lin and Hull.

Over on the Epson Tour, Dottie Ardina shot three birdies against a bogey for a 70 and moved from joint 17th to a share of ninth at 139 but the ICTSI-backed bet stood 10 strokes off new leader Bailey Tardy, whose 65 netted her a commanding five-stroke lead heading to the final round of the Toyota Classic of the Epson Tour in Tuscaloosa, also Saturday (Sunday).

Tardy sizzled early, razing the Ol’ Colony course’s frontside with a 29 highlighted by a five-birdie splurge from No. 5, and though she slowed down with a one-birdie, one-bogey card at the back, her 65 and a 129 proved enough to drive a wedge between her and the rest of the field.

Swede Linnea Strom put in a second straight 67 to grab second place at 134 with Korean Hyo Joon Jang at third with a 135 after matching Tardy’s seven-under round.

First round leader Robyn Choi of Australia turned erratic after a flawless 62 Friday, bogeying the last three holes for a 75 as she tumbled to sixth at 137 behind Americans Kristin Coleman and Laura Wearn, who matched 136s after 68 and 71, respectively.

Meanwhile, Abby Arevalo shot two birdies but made a double bogey and a bogey for a 73 as she slipped to joint 42nd with a 143 while ICTSI teammate Pauline del Rosario birdied two of the last five holes to salvage a 70 after a 75 for a 145 and a spot in the final 18 holes of the $200,000 tournament.

But two-time Epson Tour winner Clariss Guce failed to advance with a 75 for a 148, three strokes below the cutoff line in the season’s final regular tournament before the Epson Tour Championship starting Thursday in Florida where the four Filipinas are seeing action.

GOLF

YUKA SASO

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