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Photo from Tokyo 2020

2020 Tokyo Olympics

Yuka Saso ends Olympic golf debut strong

Yuka Saso closed out her first-ever Olympic golf appearance on a high note after registering a final score of six-under-par 65 to finish with a 10-under par 274 after the final round of the women’s golf tournament at the Kasumigaseki Country Club, Saitama, Japan, Saturday.

Riding on the momentum she had in the last two days, the reigning U.S. Women’s Open knew she had to more than double her efforts if she intended to get a medal in the Games.

Saso encountered a very early hiccup when she bogeyed No. 4, but she quickly negated that with a birdie in the immediate following hole. From there, she got several shots that almost found the hole for birdies which nonetheless dropped for pars.

However, such shots were an indication that something huge will happen after the turn. And so it did.

The 20-year-old Olympic rookie’s run in the last nine holes started with a powerful shot in No. 12, where she blasted that ball from 14 meters away and into the hole for a birdie. Saso duplicated such shots in the following two holes to go up to 7-under and found herself in the top 20 for the first time the whole tournament.

The world no. 10 golfer tried to continue her run but found it difficult in Nos. 15 and 16, as she lingered with the 7-under scorecard but on a steady climb due to movements across the board.

However, Saso was not yet done as perhaps the highlight of her Olympic debut happened in her second-to-the-last hole — the No. 17.

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Not really known for power, the Filipino-Japanese golfer decimated that 17th tee, and the ball zoomed far and wide up to a very manageable 3.25-meter distance from the hole. Saso eventually took care of the long putt to register her only eagle of the tournament and climb inside the top 10 with a 9-under.

Saso turned up this energy and with one hole left, she managed to close her tournament with another birdie to go to double-digit-in-red at 10-under.

On the other hand, Bianca Pagdanganan’s own debut ended with a hard-pressed 3-over 74 for the day, en route to a 1-over 285 for the tournament, which saw her at a tie for 43rd place.

The 23-year-old had an up-and-down day in the previous round, and Saturday was no different when she opened the day in the very first flight.

In her first hole, Pagdanganan immediately dropped a shot, and a birdie that could negate it was not met until No. 8. She ended the front nine with pars along the way.

The struggle continued for her in the backside, as she tried to get some birdies in. Hole no. 14 presented her with a wonderful chance, but the 2019 Southeast Asian Games double champion missed the hole by a few inches.

Instead, a bogey happened in No. 12 and under pressure, she bungled on her closing hole and got a double bogey in the process.

As of this writing, Nelly Korda of the USA hangs on to a slim lead of two strokes over Japan’s Inami Mone. The world number 1 is at 15-under, while the hometown bet is at 13-under.

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India’s Aditi Ashok is currently in bronze medal position, just a solitary hit below Inami at 12-under.

Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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