Saso shares clubhouse lead in first round of LPGA Lotte Championship

Published April 15, 2021, 11:34 AM

by Waylon Galvez

Yuka Saso of the Philippines talks with the media following the first round of the LPGA LOTTE Championship at Kapolei Golf Club on April 14, 2021 in Kapolei, Hawaii. (Photo by Christian Petersen / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Filipino golfer Yuka Saso gained a share of the clubhouse lead Thursday, April 15, in the first round of the LPGA Lotte Championship at the Kapolei Golf Course in Hawaii.

Saso fired an eight-under par 64 in a bogey-free round as she converted eight birdies in this Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour event, which has 144 players going for the $2 million purse.

Brittany Altomare of the United States also carded a 64 to tie the 19-year-old Saso, who is in the tournament on a sponsor’s exemption.

Altomare, a tour champion in 2016 and currently No. 52 in the world, had an impressive start as she birdied the first seven holes. The 30-year-old golfer from Massachusetts also birdied on 10 and 14 but she bogeyed on 15.

Saso’s first birdie came on 4, then made four straight from 6 to 9. The two-time Japan LPGA Tour winner added three more birdies on the back nine, including the last two holes.

“I made some good putts. My driving was very consistent today,” said Saso, who earned a second Philippine Sportswriters Association Athlete of the Year award during a virtual awards night last month.

“I think I just have to be careful with my drives, keep it in the fairway as much as possible, and trust the process,” added Saso, a double gold medalist during the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.

Canadian Brooke Henderson, who has won nine tour titles, is eyeing a third championship in this same tournament. South Korean Ryu So-yeon and American Ally Ewing were in the clubhouse with similar 65.

Kim Sei-young of South Korea, who won the event in 2015, had a 67 tied with Taiwan’s Hsu Wei-ling and South Korean Lee Mi-hyang, while China’s Lily Muni He is tied with four others at 68.