MANILA, Philippines – Filipino-Japanese star golfer Yuka Saso fired a dazzling 4-under 68 in the third round of the 2022 Hilton Grand Tournament of Champions in Orlando, Florida to rise up to fifth place on Saturday, January 22 (Sunday, January 23, Manila time).
After skidding to seventh place in the prior round, the 20-year-old made up ground in the third with 5 birdies against a single bogey to put her at 10-under 203 overall.
World No. 1 Nelly Korda kept hold of the top spot despite an average outing in the penultimate round, scoring a 3-under 69 for a one-stroke lead at 13-under for the tournament.
Fellow American Danielle Kang and Mexico’s Gaby Lopez each recorded 69s to maintain a share of second place, while Canada’s Brooke Henderson also gained ground like Saso, firing a 4-under 68 for solo fourth, as the field fought through cold temperature.
“Obviously not much roll from the tee,” said Saso, who’s representing Japan for the first time. “It’s wet today, so from the second shot was easy to go for the flag because I know it’s going to stop. Yeah, that was pretty much it.”
Although Saso already jumped two spots up to put herself in prime position for a top three finish or better, she will still need a near-perfect Round 4 on Sunday, January 23 (Monday, January 24, 1 am) to upstage the women above her in the standings.
The Bulacan native showed off her aggression in the tournament’s first round, when she offset 4 bogeys with a masterful eagle at the 14th hole for a 4-under 68 start to figure in a four-way tie at second place.
She then cooled off in the second round, as she settled for par in the final 10 holes with bogeys at the 11th and 12th to boot. Although she tallied 4 birdies in the first eight, they were not enough to keep her from sliding down to seventh place in the end.
Regardless of where Saso ends up in the final, the 2021 US Open champion is just taking things in stride in her first Ladies Pro Golf Association (LPGA) tournament of 2022.
In an interview with LPGA after the first round, the new Japanese citizen felt “very thankful” to play in the event, but noted she still has “a lot of things to learn.” – Rappler.com