US Women’s Open champion Yuka Saso staged a comeback in the back nine, while Bianca Pagdanganan fell out of the top 10 in the second round of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics women’s golf tournament on Thursday, August 5.
Saso rose 13 places for a joint 34th place after hitting a three-under par 68 that was highlighted by five birdies in the 6th, 8th, 14th, 16th, and 18th holes.
She rebounded from her bogeys in the 5th and 11th to finish with a par-birdie performance in the last seven holes for a par 142 total after 36 holes.
Saso is tied with four others, which include world No. 7 Brooke Henderson of Canada and ANA Inspiration winner Patty Tavatanakit of Thailand.
Meanwhile, Pagdanganan is now at joint 27th after faltering in the back nine. She continued her hot opening round performance with birdies in the 5th, 6th, and 9th holes, but bogeys in the 7th, 8th, 13th, and 18th cost her the early lead.
American Nelly Korda worked with the Tokyo heat as she sizzled with a nine-under par 62 to take the lead.
The world No. 1 flirted with the magical 59 after nine birdies and an eagle heading up the 18th.
She needed one more birdie to join Annika Sorenstam in the record books on 59, 20 years after the Swedish great’s groundbreaking day in Phoenix, Arizona, but instead she stumbled with a double-bogey six to finish on nine-under par.
Korda’s 13-under total of 129 left her four ahead of Danish duo Nanna Koerstz Madsen (64) and Emily Kristine Pedersen (63), and India’s surprise package Aditi Ashok (66).
Sweden’s overnight leader Madelene Sagstrom (68) was fifth on eight-under, while Japan’s Mone Inami was a stroke further back after a 65.
With a tropical storm forecast to hit Saturday and possibly cut the event to 54 holes, Korda’s Thursday thriller could prove decisive in the chase for a gold medal and a family heirloom to compare with her father Petr’s Australian Open tennis trophy.
South Korea’s world No. 2 Ko Jin-young (67), six strokes behind, may be best placed to dislodge Korda if the tournament lasts the full distance.
New Zealand’s former world No. 1 Lydia Ko (66), the silver medalist at Rio, three-putted her last two holes for bogeys to fall back to five-under, eight behind Korda.
Rio bronze winner Shanshan Feng of China shot a 64, 10 strokes better than her opening round, to sit nine off the pace, while 2016 champion Park Inbee is 10 behind after a grinding 70. – with a report from Reuters/Rappler.com