By REY C. LACHICA
After a performance dip in her last three tournaments, Asian Games champion Yuka Saso is determined to right the ship when she vies in the 54-hole Stanley Ladies starting Friday at the Tomei Country Club in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan.
The Fil-Japanese rookie appears to have moved on after a disappointing start to the month where she struggled to finish in joint 14th in Sunday’s Japan Women’s Open – the second major event in the rich Japan Ladies Golf Professional Association (JLPGA).
The rising star of Philippine sports, however, needs to play with lots of confidence and great resolve if she wants again to figure prominently in the event offering Y18,000,000 (roughly P8.2 million) to the champion.
For one, she will be up against practically the same crack field that took part in the JWO event won in runaway fashion by Erika Hara.
Also in the mix are new Player of the Year leader Sakura Koiwai, Momoko Ueda, Ai Suzuki, Ayaka Watanabe, Ayaka Furue and major champion Saki Nagamine along with defending champion Au-Reum Hwang of South Korea.
Saso started to earn raves from even the grizzled veterans of the tour with respectable finishes in the first two legs before winning the next two that established herself as the player to watch in the tour.
But she had a roller-coaster showing in the next three legs although she managed to stay on the top spot in the money race with whopping Y65,190,250 (roughly P30 million) in earnings.
The 19-year-old Saso is easily the fastest Pinay golfer or athlete to rake in such huge winnings. She accumulated that fortune in just seven tournaments.
Despite the slump, Saso remains unbowed, saying it’s just part of the learning curve.
“It’s golf…anything can happen like I always say, so it’s part of the process,” said Saso. “I’ll just have to try to do my best in every tournament.”