ON a day of low scores, Yuka Saso was the odd player out, struggling with a 73 at the start of the 34th Daikin Ladies Golf Championship yesterday in the year-opening event of the Japanese LPGA Tour at the Ryukyu Golf Club in Okinawa, Japan.
After going one under in the front nine with a birdie on No. 7, Saso bogeyed the 15th and 16th holes to finish one-over par at the par-72 6,561-yard course, nine shots behind Japanese teenager Mao Zaigoh, who sizzled with a 64 to lead by three shots.
Zaigoh, 19, who also got her tour card in 2019 like Saso, torched the first nine holes with six birdies then capped her outstanding performance with an eagle on the last hole to take control in the 126 million yen (roughly P54.5 million) tournament offering a top pot of 21.6 million yen (P9.8 million).
She stood three strokes ahead of six others at 67.
Saso, last year’s top earner on the tour with a total of 98.3 million yen (P54.5 million) in winnings, is in danger of missing the cut after 36 holes considering the low scores turned in by the field.
The tournament marked the first time the JLPGA allowed a minimum number of 1,000 fans on the course each day in the 72-hole tourney ending on Sunday since audiences were barred last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.