Yuka Saso

Yuka Saso off to strong start at US Women’s Open

Reuters
Yuka Saso off to strong start at US Women’s Open

SOLID. Yuka Saso hits her tee shot on the second hole during the first round of the US Women's Open golf tournament.

Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Filipino golf star Yuka Saso stays within striking of the early leaders

The Philippines’ Yuka Saso started strong at the US Women’s Open, joining the early top 10 leaders paced by New Jersey high school junior Megha Ganne and England’s Mel Reid.

Ganne and Reid both carded a 4-under 67  to share the first-round lead on Thursday, June 3 (Friday, June 4, Manila time) at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.

Americans Megan Khang and Angel Yin, and Canadian Brooke Henderson were tied for third, one shot back.

Saso, the 2018 Asian Games double-gold medalist, wound up tied for sixth place at 2-under 69 with China’s Shanshan Feng and US’ Lexi Thompson.

South Korea’s Jin Young Ko, the world No. 1, is one of seven golfers tied for ninth at 1-under.

Ganne, a 17-year-old amateur, recorded six birdies against two bogeys on the biggest stage in women’s golf. She held the lead until a bogey at 18 knocked her back into a tie.

The 33-year-old Reid notched five birdies and one bogey in her first trip around the Lake Course.

Ganne, who attends Holmdel High in New Jersey, is playing in her second US Open. She said she is much more comfortable this time around.

“I think the first time is nerve-racking for anybody and meeting your idols and being on the stage for the first time,” Ganne said. 

“But the second time around, even the practice rounds, I wasn’t as nervous. I felt like I could come here and just play my game instead of soaking that all in. So I got that out of the way the first time around. Definitely a little bit easier this time.”

Ganne didn’t make the cut in her first US Open as a 15-year-old high school freshman in 2019 at Charleston, South Carolina. She isn’t going to have that problem this time around unless she suffers an epic collapse.

The Stanford commit started fast with birdies on Nos. 2 and 4 and added another on No. 8. Ganne bogeyed No. 11 but recovered with birdies on three of the ensuing five holes before stumbling on 18.

Ganne said she should have been more cautious on 18, similar to her approach throughout the round that she said was the key.

“I think just my ability to play smart and not take any unnecessary risks,” Ganne said of her success. “I didn’t panic when I got into the rough a couple of times out there because there are definitely holes I wasn’t keeping in the fairway, and it’s easy to panic out there, and I didn’t do that. So I think that was it.”

Reid has just one LPGA Tour win and that came last October at the ShopRite LPGA Classic. Her best finish in a major came when she tied for third at the Women’s PGA Championship in 2019.

But she put together a crisp round that was bogey-free until she also faltered at No. 18.

Reid shot par on each of the six holes before registering birdies on three of the next five. She later posted birdies on 15 and 16 and said she was surprised to shoot 4-under.

“I didn’t think that score was out there, honestly,” Reid said. “Yeah, I had a pretty good game plan. It’s probably the best I’ve had for a tournament. We had a game plan and stuck to it.

“If you’re in trouble, just get it out, make bogey. I think the key here is to not take many risks the first two, three days, and I didn’t do that.”

Reid described her play as “very, very solid” but also is well aware that one stellar round doesn’t win a tournament.

“There’s a long, long way to go, and if you don’t pay attention, this golf course can really eat you up,” Reid said. “Just need to stay focused. Whoever wins at the end of this is going to be really tired come Sunday.”

Henderson had six birdies, and one of her three bogeys came on 18 to prevent her from holding a share of the lead.

Khang had five birdies and two bogeys while Yin carded one eagle, three birdies and two bogeys. Yin’s eagle came on the par-5, 17th hole.

Two amateurs – Gurleen Kaur (who attends Baylor) and Sweden’s Maja Stark – were among the 10 tied for 16th at even-par.

Defending champion A Lim Kim of South Korea had a rough time and shot 8-over 79. She had four bogeys, one double-bogey, and one triple-bogey as well as one birdie. – Rappler.com