by Kristel Satumbaga
Yuka Saso dispatched 64th seed Kaylee Sakoda of the United States, 6 and 4, and advanced to the Round of 32 in the 71st US Girls’ Junior Championships at SentryWorld in Wisconsin.
Saso, the stroke-play medalist and top seed in the event, was 3-up in the first eight holes before registering her first bogey in the par-5 ninth. She was bogey-free in the two-round stroke-play event.
The 18-year-old Asian Games double gold medalist bounced back and birdied four of the next five holes to prevail and arrange a Round of 32 match against 33rd seed Phoebe Brinker of the United States.
Brinker, 17, downed Colombia’s Valery Plata, 1 up.
“I was nervous,” said Saso, winner of the Junior Girls PGA Championship two weeks ago in Connecticut. “I’m just happy for today. I struggled on the ninth hole, but good thing I got my momentum back on hole 10.”
Good news for Saso were the defeats of 2017 champion Erica Shepherd, and last year’s runner-up Alexa Pano.
Shephered, who won the US Women’s Amateur Four-Ball title earlier this year, yielded to Kelly Xu, 3 and 2, while Pano lost to Australia’s Grace Kim, 3 and 2.
Second seed Maddison Hinson-Tolchard of Australia was also shown the door by No. 63 Caroline Hodge. She had a 1-up lead going to the final hole but bogeyed the 18th and the 19th to kiss her title bid goodbye.
Nine countries are represented in the Round of 32 led by the United States with 23, and China with 2.
The remaining players come from Australia, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, India, Mexico and the Philippines.
IKEDA KEEPS LEAD
Chihiro Ikeda shook off a wobbly start with a fiery backside charge as she salvaged an even-par 69 to regain a three-stroke lead over amateur Chanelle Avaricio after two rounds of the ICTSI Camp John Hay Ladies Championship in Baguio yesterday.
After firing an opening bogey-free 63 on a hot putter for a five-stroke lead Wednesday, Ikeda struggled on John Hay’s tricky, undulating surface, stumbling with two bogeys and a double-bogey in the first five holes and making the turn at four-over 39, enabling her pursuers to gain ground in hot conditions.
They included Avaricio, who overhauled a seven-stroke deficit in a flight ahead and tied the Fil-Japanese at two-under overall with three birdies for a 32 with at least five others, including Princess Superal and Daniella Uy, also getting back into the thick of things.