Saso slumps to 77, slips to share of 53rd

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    AFTER two successive solid rounds, Filipino-Japanese Yuka Saso slumped to a 77 yesterday and slipped into a tie for 53rd place with seven others in the third round of the ANA Inspiration golf championship at the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California.

    Saso, who shot earlier rounds of  69-71 to make the cut after 36 holes, unraveled with four bogeys and one double bogey against a lone birdie on the par-72, 6,763-yard Dina Shore course and stood 15 strokes behind pacesetting Tavatanakit in the first major of women’s professional golf.

    Tavatanakit banked on a sizzling 4-under 32 on the front nine en route to a 67-202 to stay five shots ahead of South Korean defending champion Mirim Lee and American Ally Ewing, who carded 68 and 66, respectively, in the $3.1 million event offering a top prize of $465,000 (roughly P22.5 million).

    Bianca Pagdanganan, who qualified for the blue-ribbon tournament for being in the top 80 of the money list of the 2020 US LPGA season, failed to make the 36-hole qualifying cut after shooting mediocre rounds of 75 and 73.

    Starting on the front nine, Saso began on the wrong foot with a bogey on No. 1 before offsetting that mistake with a birdie on the next hole, only to flub No. 6 for a 37 at the turn.

    She apparently had problems with her approach shots, hitting only eight of the 18 greens in regulation, dramatized by double bogey on the 14th plus bogeys on the 15th and 17th holes for a 40 coming home.

    Saso and Pagdanganan are the country’s Olympic golf hopefuls in the Tokyo Olympics in July and are currently ranked No. 22 and No. 43, respectively, in the International Golf Federation Olympic qualifying rankings.