By Waylon Galvez
Tokyo Olympics veteran Yuka Saso displayed her old deadly form, firing a bogey-free six-under par 65 to jump into a share of 9th place in the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Saturday (Sunday in Manila) at the Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Northwest Arkansas.
Banking on her impressive shotmaking, the 20-year-old reigning US Women’s Open champion gunned six birdies highlighted by two back-to-back birdies on the 7th and 8th and 11th and 12th to get back in the thick of things.
Going into the final 18 holes, the reigning Asian Games champion has a two-day aggregate of 134 – just four shots behind Minjee Lee of Australia and Nasa Hataoka of Japan.
Lee was also flawless, turning in a 63, while Hataoka also matched Saso’s score but not after making her second hole-in-one in as many days.
Hataoka aced the 175-yard par-three No. 6 on Saturday with a five iron, one day after she aced the par-three No. 11.
She became just the fifth player in LPGA Tour history to make two aces in one tournament and the first since her Japanese compatriot Ayako Uehara at the 2016 Women’s Open.
Bianca Pagdanganan and Dottie Ardina both recovered from opening round struggles to also make the cut.
Pagdanganan also produced a 67 while Ardina carded a 69 to gain a tie for 66th to 87th places at 141 or one-under for the tournament.
The 23-year-old Pagdanganan, a teammate of Saso with the gold medal winning women’s national team during the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, highlighted her round with an eagle in the par-5 7, and also had six birdies and a pair of bogeys. (With a report from AFP)