By Waylon Galvez
Asian Games gold medalist Yuka Saso gets her first acid test against the best in the region as she competes in the Earth Mondahmin Cup Thursday at the Camellia Hills Country Club in Chiba, Japan.
Saso has been preparing for the event, which is part of the LPGA of Japan Tour, during the long break due to the coronavirus pandemic and observers are expecting the former top amateur golfer in the world to contend in the $2.1 million tournament.
“I feel good but more than anything else, I want to enjoy playing,” said the Fil-Japanese Saso. “Practicing frequently and putting all your heart on it produce outcomes.”
The 19-year-old Saso tees off at 1 p.m. together with No. 10 Japanese Aoi Ohnishi and Risa Murata.
Saso scored a come-from-behind win for the Philippines to pocket the singles championship in the Jakarta Asian Games two years ago and in the way powered the women’s team to the title.
She also bagged a few local tournaments before turning pro.
However, Saso said she isn’t expecting too much after her first two professional tournaments in Australia where missed the cut at Handa Vic Open and finished tied for 25th in Women’s Australian Open.
“Honestly, no expectations. Sometimes they don’t work for me quite well,” she said.
A total of 144 players have joined the event, a first after almost three months of break due to COVID-19. Momoko Ueda, a 15-time JLPGA Tour champion, leads the participants as she kicks off her bid at 1:10 p.m. with No. 1 Minami Hiruta and Moeka Nishihata.