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Yuka Saso 3 shots off Thai leader at ANA Inspiration

Yuka Saso of the Philippines hits out of the sand on the second hole during round one of the ANA Inspiration at the Dinah Shore course at Mission Hills Country Club on April 01, 2021 in Rancho Mirage, California. (AFP)

Yuka Saso made her presence felt in the first major event of the LPGA Tour by turning in a three-under-par 69 Thursday as Asians dominated the start of the ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, California.

Inspired after being honored as Athlete of the Year for the second time in Saturday’s virtual PSA Awards Night, Saso sizzled in the backnine where she started, gunning down three birdies to finish in joint 8th with seven others – three shots off Thai Patty Tavatanakit

Patty, who played college golf at the University of California at Los Angeles, didn’t let any major championship nerves get the better of her, grabbing six birdies without a bogey for a one-shot lead over Chinese veteran Feng Shanshan and Ireland’s Leona Maguire.

Patty topped a crowded leaderboard that saw a dozen players within three shots of the lead ‒ a group that included world number one Ko Jin-young of South Korea, Thai sisters Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn and two-time major champion Anna Nordqvist of Sweden.

If not for a bogey on hole No. 7, the 19-year-old Fil-Japanese Saso could have done better in the event held at the Mission Hills Dinah Shore course.

Bianca Pagdanganan, the other Filipina bet in the event, was not fortunate as she struggled with a 75.

For Pagdanganan to make it to the weekend action, she needs to bounce back big time.

Feng, a 10-time LPGA winner, looked anything but rusty in her first tour event since the Tour Championship in November 2019.

She had five birdies in her five-under effort, topping the leaderboard until Patty passed her by. (With a report from AFP)

Leading first-round scores on Thursday in the LGPA ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, California (USA unless noted, par-72):

66 – Patty Tavatanakit (THA)

67 – Leona Maguire (IRL), Feng Shanshan (CHN)

68 – Ariya Jutanugarn (THA), Anna Nordqvist (SWE), Megan Khang, Moriya Jutanugarn (THA)

69 – Lee Mi-rim (KOR), Jessica Korda, Jennifer Kupcho, Ko Jin-young (KOR), Georgia Hall (ENG), Charley Hull (ENG), Bronte Law (ENG), Yuka Saso (PH)

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Written by Tempo Desk

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