Pinay golfers Saso, Pagdanganan nearing Tokyo Olympic spots

Published May 6, 2021, 1:21 PM

by Waylon Galvez

Yuka Saso (left) and Bianca Pagdanganan (Photos from AFP)

With a month to go before qualification ends, top Filipino golfers Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan are almost assured of earning spots in the Tokyo Olympics with their respective Olympic Golf Rankings in the International Golf Federation (IGF).

National Golf Association of the Philippines (NGAP) Secretary-General Bones Floro said Thursday, May 6, that the qualification deadline is set June 22, or a month before the July 23 to August 8 Summer Games in Japan.

“It’s highly unlikely that Yuka Saso will not qualify. Bianca Pagdanganan also has a super good chance to make it to the Olympics,” said Floro in a phone interview with Manila Bulletin.

“Because the qualification is until June 22, they both just have to keep on playing, and continue to earn points. But with their current rankings now, I think they are assured of slots.”

In the IGF’s Reallocation Reserve List for women, Saso is at No. 22, while Pagdanganan is at No. 43. The top 60 players in the world – two per country – in men’s and women’s will qualify in the Tokyo Olympics.

Up for grabs in the Games are gold medals in the men’s and women’s individual competition.

The 19-year-old Saso is playing in the Japan LPGA Tour where she has won two titles since she turned pro last year. In the last Lotte Championship in Hawaii, she placed sixth overall – her best finish in the LPGA Tour.

On the other hand, the 23-year-old Pagdanganan competes in the US LPGA, and in last year’s Women’s PGA Championship in Pennsylvania, she finished tied for ninth to 12th places overall.

The two golfers teamed up for the national team with Lois Kaye Go that won the gold medal in the women’s team competition at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, while Saso took the gold medal and Pagdanganan earned a bronze medal in the individual category.

Floro said that based on the performance of the two golfers, there is a solid chance for Saso and Pagdangan to get a podium finish.

“To get to the Olympics is something to be very proud of. It’s not easy to qualify,” Floro said. “You try to get there by earning points, that means you have to perform well in every tournament.”

“I think they have serious chances of winning medals in the Tokyo Olympics, because both Yuka and Bianca have the tools to compete against the best in the world in women’s golf.”

Golf has been re-included in the 2016 Rio Olympics – the first time since the 1904 meet in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Miguel Tabuena competed in the men’s golf in the Rio Olympics.