BEFORE embarking in a big mission that’s the US Women’s Open in two weeks time, the Philippines’ Yuka Saso will first resume her chase for a third title in the rich Japan LPGA as she competes in the Chukuo TV Bridgestone Ladies Open which begins today in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture.
The leg will serve as a tuneup tournament for Saso, who flies to the US after the tournament to see action in the prize-rich, prestigious US Women’s Open where she’ll be competing against the veritable Who’s Who in women’s golf.
The Olympic-bound Saso, who claimed two wins and made six other top 10 finishes in the pandemic-hit 2020 season, has turned in no higher than tied for 12th in a limited JLPGA appearance owing to her stints in the LPGA Tour. She missed the cut in the season-opening Daikin Orchid, shared 12th place in Yokohama Tire, but struggled and wound up joint 50th in the T-Point x Eneos, She tied for 18th in the World Ladies Championship and ended up joint 25th in last week’s Hoken no Mado Ladies, which was reduced to 36 holes due to adverse weather conditions.
But the ICTSI-backed ace, who tied for 13th in her US Open debut in Houston last December, is brimming with confidence heading to the 54-hole championship offering a total prize fund of Y70 million (P31 million) with the winner pocketing Y12.6 million (P5.5 million).
An early clash with Sakura Koiwai also provides an interesting subplot to an expected thriller of a title hunt with the local ace enjoying top form with two victories in Daikin Orchid and T-Point x Eneos, and four Top 5 finishes, including a runner-up effort in the Fujifilm Studio Women’s Open, in the integrated season.
Though she somewhat slowed down in the last three JLPGA events that had her groping for joint 29th and 28th in Panasonic Open and the World Ladies Championshipm respectively, last month, she tied for 10th in Hoken no Mado Ladies.
Joining them in the 9:20 a.m. flight on No. 1 is Mimu Yamashita, who placed second in Fujisankei Classic, shared third place in Panasonic Open and tied for eighth in the World Ladies.
Three-leg winner Mone Inami banners the stellar cast that features Ayaka Furue, Erika Hara, Eri Okayama, Chie Arimura, Minami Katsu, Yuna Nishimura, Ayaka Watanabe, Jiyai Shin, Ai Suzuki, Mamiko Higa, Saki Nagamine and last week’s playoff winner Momoko Osato.