Saso takes solo lead in Lotte Championship

Published April 16, 2021, 12:20 PM

by Waylon Galvez

Yuka Saso of the Philippines plays a tee shot on the 13th hole during the second round of the LPGA LOTTE Championship at Kapolei Golf Club on April 15, 2021 in Kapolei, Hawaii. (Photo by Christian Petersen / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Yuka Saso of the Philippines delivered a solid second round performance as she carded another eight-under-par 64 for a two-shot lead over Lydia Ko of New Zealand in the LPGA Lotte Championship Friday, April 16, at the Kapolei Course in Hawaii.

The 19-year-old Filipino golfer matched her first round total, and her last two birdies on 16 and 17 gave her a two-shot lead on the 15-time LPGA tour champion Ko, who fired a 63.

Saso, who is in the tournament on a sponsor’s exemption, was at 10-under through three holes in the second round after birdies on 1 and 3, but she committed a bogey on 4.

However, Saso – a double gold medalist during the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia and recipient of the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Athletes of the Year – quickly recovered with a string of birdies to close out the front nine for a 31.

She started the back nine with another birdie, before that back-to-back birdie conversion on 16 and 17. Overall, Saso made nine birdies, surpassing her eight in the opening round of this LPGA tour event.

Saso, who won two tournaments as a rookie last year in the Japan LPGA tour, now has a two-day total of 128.

The 23-year-old Ko, a two-time majors winner, was even spectacular with her bogey-free performance that saw her convert nine birdies. Together with her 67 in the first round, she is now at 14-under 130.

Four players are tied at 133, South Korea’s Hyo Joo Kim and So Yeon Ryu, Spain’s Luna Sobron Galmes and American Nelly Korda. Galmes carded a second round 64, Kim shot a 65, while Korda and Ryu – a two-time majors champion – finished with similar 68.

At seventh to ninth places are Brianna Do and Ally Ewing of the United States, and Korea’s Sei Young Kim at 134, while six players are locked in a tie for 10th to 15th places, including Saso’s co-leader in the first round, American Brittany Altamore all at 135.