Saso drops to third, Ko leads Lotte

Published April 17, 2021, 2:01 PM

by Waylon Galvez

Yuka Saso of the Philippines plays a tee shot on the 12th hole during the third round of the LPGA LOTTE Championship at Kapolei Golf Club on April 16, 2021 in Kapolei, Hawaii. (Photo by Christian Petersen / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

After two days with the lead, Filipino golfer Yuka Saso dropped to solo third after she carded a one-under-par 71 in the third round of the LPGA Lotte Championship Friday (Saturday in Manila) at the Kapolei Course in Hawaii.

Saso, who submitted an identical 64 in the first two days of the tournament and holds a two-shot lead going to the third round, found herself four shots behind new leader Lydia Ko of New Zealand.

The 19-year-old Saso struggled early as she bogeyed three of the first five holes, 1, 4 and 5.

She also bogeyed on 8.

But thanks to her five birdies on 2, 7, 9, 14 and 17, the two-time champion in the Japan LPGA Tour last year stayed in contention to win her first title in the US LPGA.

Saso, a double gold medalist during the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia and was recently named Athlete of the Year by the Philippine Sportswriters Association, now has a three-day total of 199.

The 23-year-old Ko, who started the day two shots behind Saso, was solid for the second straight day with another bogey-free round of 65 as she converted a total of five birdies, including the last two that gave her a one-shot lead over Nelly Korda of the United States.

The 15-time tour champion and two majors winner Ko holds a three-day score of 195, while Korda, who fired a 63 on 10 birdies against a single bogey on 10, carries a total score of 196.

A solo fourth spot is Leona Maguire of Ireland, who now has 200 after a 65, while South Korea’s Amy Yang of Korea is at fifth place at 201 after a 64. Sei Young Kim and Hyo Joo Kim of Korea are tied for sixth to eighth places with Lexi Thompson of the US at 202.

American Britanny Altomare, a co-leader with Saso after the first round, finished the day tied with six other players at 203 after her 68.