UNABLE to cope with her errant putter, Yuka Saso stumbled with an opening-round one-over par 73 yesterday for a shaky start in the Japan Women’s Open Golf Championship at the Classic Golf Club in Fukuoka, Japan.
Usually known for her precise short game, Saso assembled nines of 36-33 over the par 72, 6,761-yard layout in the seaport city located 886 kilometers northwest of Tokyo with two birdies and three bogeys, the last on the par 4 17th hole.
The 2018 Asian Games double gold medalist stood nine shots behind South Korean pacesetter and Japanese LPGA tour veteran Lee Na-Ri, who shot a near-flawless eight-under 64 in the 112.5 million yen (roughly P51.6 million) tournament offering a top purse of 22.5 million yen (P10.3 million).
Lurking not too far behind Lee was Japanese Sakura Koiwai, who shot a bogey-less six-under 66 in the 72-hole tournament considered one of the circuit’s majors.
“I think the course is in good shape. The layout plays long and the rough hard. It is difficult if you cannot keep yourself on the fairway. You have to take it one stroke at a time,” said Saso, a tour rookie, who leads the Mercedes tour rankings with a total of 63,964 million yen (P29 million) in earnings.