By Waylon Galvez
Golfers Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan officially became the newest members of Team Philippine to the Tokyo Olympics after the International Golf Federation (IGF) released the official list of 60 players in the women’s category Tuesday.
The National Golf Association of the Philippines (NGAP) confirmed the qualification of Saso and Pagdanganan late Tuesday, thus becoming the 16th and 17th members of the Team PH in the Games set July 23 to August 8 in Japan.
Apart from being ranked No. 8 in the world, Saso was also seeded No. 8 by the IGF, while Pagdanganan – No. 165 in the world – is 44th.
Thanks to her stirring US Women’s Open triumph four weeks ago, Saso is fancied to contend for the gold medal. US Women’s Open is one of the five majors in women’s pro golf.
Aside from the US Women’s Open title, Saso – a two-time Athlete of the Year of the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) – also has two professional titles in the Japan LPGA Tour, which came during her rookie year in 2020.
Pagdanganan, on the other hand, competes in the LPGA Tour in the US.
The two were part of the gold medal winning team as amateurs for the Philippines during the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia. Saso also won the gold in the singles event while Pagdanganan settled with the bronze medal.
The list for the women’s event in golf was finalized after the recently concluded KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in Atlanta, Georgia where American Nelly Korda emerged as the champion.
Aside from Saso and Pagdanganan, Juvic Pagunsan will also compete in the men’s division of golf in the Tokyo Olympics.
The men’s event is set July 29 to August 1, while the women’s division will be played August 4 to 7at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe, Saitama, Japan.
The other Filipino qualifiers to the cororavirus-delayed Games are shooter Jayson Valdez, boxers Nesthy Petecio, Irish Magno, Carlo Paalam and Eumir Felix Marcial, pole vaulter EJ Obiena, sprinter Kristina Knott, gymnast Carlos Yulo, skateboarder Margielyn Didal, taekwondo jin Kurt Bryan Barbosa, rower Cris Nievarez, weightlifters Hidilyn Diaz and Erleen Ann Ando, judo’s Kiyomi Watanabe.