Yuka Saso gets off to a hot start with a four-under par 67. (AFP)

Reigning US Women’s Open champion Yuka Saso birdied her two closing holes on the way to a four-under par 67 in the opening round of the LPGA Tour’s ShopRite Classic Friday (Saturday, PH time) at the Stockton Seaview Golf Club in Galloway, New Jersey.

The Fil-Japanese star got off to a cold start as she bogeyed the 10th hole where she launched her bid but recovered big time to trail early frontrunners – Korean So Yeon Ryu and Swiss Jodi Ewart Shadoff – by just two shots.

Saso, who collected almost P5.3 million for finishing in a tie for fourth place in the Northwest Arkansas Championship in Rogers, Northwest Arkansas on Sunday (Monday, PH time), turned things around by birdying all three par-5s beginning on the 9th hole to gain a tie for 11th to 20th places.

She also birdied the 3rd and 9th holes – both par-5. Her two other birdies came on the 5th and 9th holes to draw level with 9 others, including Caroline Masson of Germany, American Brittany Lincicome and social media sensation He Muni of China.

Two shots farther back were the group of Bianca Pagdangnan and three-time major winner Anna Nordqvist.

Dottie Ardina, another Filipino bet, needs to produce a solid game in the second round after settling only for a 71. She was tied for 70.

A group of eight players are one stroke back of the lead and tied for third at five-under, including world No. 2 Ko Jin-young, South Korean Park In-bee and 10-time LPGA Tour winner Brooke Henderson. (With a report from AFP)

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