Saso, Pagdanganan stay on target

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    YUKA Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan stayed on course for slots in the Tokyo Olympic Games next year, figuring prominently in 30th and 40th spots, respectively, in the latest International Golf Federation Olympic world rankings released yesterday.

    Saso, the Japanese LPGA tour rookie, has been at No. 30 for the last few months and could rise even more in the ratings after her strong second-place finish in the TOTO Grand Classic tournament in Omitama, Japan over the weekend.

    The 2018 Asian Game double gold medalist’s outstanding performance also enabled her to regain first place in the Japanese LPGA Tour’s Mercedes ratings while showing the way in total earnings with 82,753,120 yen (P38.577 million). She won 24 million yen (roughly P11.1 million) in her last event.

    Saso also climbed a notch higher to No. 73 in the prestigious Rolex Women’s World Rankings, the ranking system based on the performances of women’s professional golfers globally, while Pagdanganan slipped one rung down to No. 152.

    Currently also playing as a rookie in the US LPGA Tour, Pagdanganan, who finished third in the LPGA Drive On-Reynolds Lake Oconee tournament in Greensboro, Georgia three weeks ago, moved up seven places in the Olympic qualifying ratings from No. 47.

    Pagdanganan, the longest hitter on the US women’s tour, has the opportunity to further boost her Olympic rankings when she competes in the 75th US Women’s Open on Dec. 10 to 14 at the Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas.

    A double gold medalist in the last Southeast Asian Games, Pagdanganan earned an invitation to the blue-ribbon tournament after finishing in a tie for ninth in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in Newton Square, Pennsylvania last October.

    The present strong performances of Saso and Pagdanganan raises the possibility the country might have two entries to the Tokyo Games after Juan Migue Tabuena represented the Philippines in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

    A total of 60 players will qualify for Tokyo, with the top 15 making the men’s cut on June 20, 2021 and the women’s cut on June 28, 2021, respectively, securing tickets to the quadrennial global games.

    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 Tokyo.