Saso boosts bid for Tokyo Olympics spot


    ALTHOUGH she failed to advance to the final round of her latest Japanese LPGA tournament over the weekend, the stock of Filipino-Japanese golfer Yuka Saso continued to rise in the International Golf Federation Olympic qualifying and Rolex Women’s world rankings released last Monday.

    Saso improved five rungs higher in the Olympic qualifying ratings, now ranked No. 25 among the top 60 golfers who would seed action in the Tokyo Olympic Games women’s golf championships if it would start today.

    Compatriot Bianca Pagdanganan, a rookie in the US LPGA circuit, remained at No. 40 and was also within sight of a ticket to the rescheduled quadrennial global sports showcase set to be held in the Japanese capital next year.

    Should they stay the course, the country may wind up with two representatives in Tokyo. Miguel Tabuena participated in the 2016 Rio Olympics, finishing 53rd at the then newly-built Olympic Golf Course within the Marapendi Natural Reserve on the outskirts of Brazil’s famed resort capital.

    The top 15 golfers in both the men’s and women’s divisions at the Olympic cutoff in June 2021 will qualify outright for the Games, with a maximum of four players each country making the grade.

    The remaining 35 will also earn tickets as long as a country does not already have two players in the top 15.

    The Tokyo Olympic Games men’s golf tournament will be on July 29 to Aug. 1, 2021 while the women’s competition is slated Aug. 4 to 7, both at the par-71, 6,982-yard Kasumigaseki Country Club in Saitama, 36.25 kilometers north of the Japanese capital of Tokyo.

    A double gold medalist in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, Saso moved two notches up from the previous week and now stood at a personal best of No. 55 in the Rolex women’s world ranking, banking on her runner-up finish in the TOTO Japan Classic two weeks ago to rise 18 spots from her previous spot of No. 73.

    Idle for over three weeks since her third-place finish at the LPGA Drive On Championship-Reynolds Lake Oconee tourney in Greensboro, Georgia, Pagdanganan dipped slightly from No. 152 to No. 154 in the Rolex ratings, which is based on the performance of female pro golfers in major tournaments worldwide.