Pagdanganan, Saso make US Open debut

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    GOLFERS Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan, along with Louise Kaye Go, provided the Philippines one of its golden moments in the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia two years ago, sweeping the individual and team events.

    They have taken different paths since then but will be together again as they chase individual glory for flag and country in the US Women’s Open in Houston, Texas starting today (Thursday in the US).

    They will be among the crack field of 154 entries from 26 countries teeing off in two courses at the Champions Golf Club – Cypress Creek and  Jack Rabbit – in the oldest major of professional women’s golf offering a total pot of  $5.5 million (roughly P264.3 million) and a championship purse of $1 million  (P48 million).

    A last-minute withdrawal was American Andrea Lee, who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, the golfdigest.com website reported yesterday.

    The exploits of Saso and Pagdanganan as rookies on the Japanese LPGA and US LPGA tours, respectively, have been among the bright spots in a generally bleak Philippine sports landscape.

    They are among 42 golfers making their debut in the women’s golfing showcase that has lured nine past and present US Women’s Open champions.

    Leading the way is reigning South Korean titlist Lee6 Jeong-eun, who won the event in her maiden stint and was named Rolex LPGA Rookie of the Year in 2019.

    The other former Asian champs in the stellar cast are Koreans Inbee Park, a two-time winner in 2008 and 2013; Eun Hi Jee (2009), Sung Hyun Park (2017), So Yeon Ryu (2011) and Thai Ariya Jutanugarn (2018).

    With the competition rescheduled from its original date in July, US Women’s Open organizers have been prompted to use two courses due to the earlier sunset times in the hometown of the Houston Rockets, making it a double challenge in the first two days of the event.

    Although both courses are par-71, the conditions of the 6,731-yard Cypress Creek and 6,558-yard Jack Rabbit are vastly different, according to US tour veteran and Texas native Cheyenne Knight.

    Cypress Creek is noted for its “enormous greens,” Knight pointed out. “You could have a 70, 80, 90-footer (putt).”