LPGA Thailand: Saso stays in hunt after eagle-aided 68

Jan Veran - Philstar.com
LPGA Thailand: Saso stays in hunt after eagle-aided 68
Yuka Saso

MANILA, Philippines – Yuka Saso exploded at the finish to churn out an eagle-spiked 68 but remained six strokes off the pace as in-form Patty Tavatanakit took solo control with a 66 in the third round of the Honda LPGA Thailand in Chonburi Saturday.

The power-hitting Saso kept her mastery of the Siam Country Club’s Old course’s long holes, birdying the four par-5s for the second straight day and highlighting her 36-32 round with an eagle-2 on the drivable 320-yard No. 15 to improve to joint 11th at 206.

Despite her birdies on the first two par-5s (Nos. 1 and 7), the 2021 US Women’s Open champion settled for a frontside 36 with bogeys on Nos. 6 and 8. She dominated the third long hole on No. 10 then drove to the green on the 15th, sinking a 12-foot putt for eagle.

She then birdied the closing par-5 hole as she turned in a 68 after back-to-back 69s, joining four others at 11th, including Korean Jenny Shin, Thais Natthakritta Vongtaveelap and Jaravee Boonchant, and fellow Japanese Ayaka Furue, who carded 67, 68, 70 and 71, respectively.

While Saso missed just three fairways, she struggled with her irons, missing nine greens. She, however, made up for the struggle by finishing with 25 putts.

In contrast, ICTSI stablemate Bianca Pagdanganan finished with a 72 despite an eagle on No. 7 and a birdie on the 15th as she slipped with bogeys on Nos. 6, 9 and 18 and dropped to a share of 41st at 211, 11 strokes off Tavatanakit.

The Thai moved 18 holes away from scoring back-to-back victories following her triumph in the Saudi Ladies International of the Ladies European Tour last week. The former major winner, in a tie with Swede Madelene Sagstrom after 36 holes, seized command with four birdies in the first six holes then built a commanding six-shot lead with an eagle on the seventh in a sterling frontside 30.

A bogey on No. 11 momentarily halted her charge but she birdied the 15th to post a 66 and a 16-under 200 total.

Sagstrom eagled the last hole to salvage a 69 and a 203 while Korean Hye Jin Choi and Emily Pedersen of Denmark matched 65s to tie Hyo Joo Kim, who shot a 69, also of Korea, at third with 204s.

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