Yuka Saso one shot behind Lexi Thompson in US Women’s Open

Published June 6, 2021, 11:49 AM

by Waylon Galvez

Yuka Saso of the Philippines hits from the bunker on the seventh hole during the third round of the 76th U.S. Women’s Open Championship at The Olympic Club on June 05, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Filipino-Japanese Yuka Saso had a chance to force a tie for the lead but a missed a putt to save par which gave American Lexi Thompson a one-shot advantage in the third round of the 2021 US Women’s Open Championship Saturday, June 5 at the Lake Course of The Olympic Club in San Francisco, California.

Saso’s second shot on hole 18 found the rough, and the putt from about 10 feet didn’t drop in as it missed the right side of the cup just a few centimeters. She made a bogey to close out with an even-par 71.

Saso now has a total of 207 through 54 holes, which sets the stage for what is expected to be an exciting final day of the tournament as the Tokyo Olympics-bound golfer shoots for her breakthrough win in the LPGA Tour.

Compared to the first two days of action, Saso’s third round performance was a roller coaster as she mixed her round with four birdies and the same numbers of bogeys in the $5.5 million event.

The 19-year-old Saso birdied on 1, 7, 10 and 17, while her bogeys came on 4, 13, 14 and 18.

The birdie putt on 1 put Saso at seven-under, and though she bogeyed on 4, her birdies on 7 and 10 moved the double gold medal winner in the Asian Games two years ago at eight-under.

At that point, Saso was up by three strokes on Thompson.

However, back-to-back bogeys on 13 and 14 put Saso back at six-under. Her birdie putt on the par-5 17 put Saso in a tie for the lead with Thompson. But then came the bogey on 18 for Saso, giving Thompson a one-shot advantage going to the last round Sunday.

“I wasn’t really thinking about anything. I just [did] the same as what I did the first couple days and. I think it worked pretty good,” Saso told the LPGA Communications as posted on its webpage LPGA.com.

Saso will try to match the record set by Inbee Park of South Korea as the youngest champion at 19 years, 11 months, 17 days. Saso would also try to become the first Filipino golfer to win this championship.

The 26-year-old Thompson, a 14-time LPGA Tour champion, was spectacular with her bogey free round.

She began the round at two-under tied with world No. 2 Park In-bee of Korea and English golfer Mel Reid for sixth to eighth places, but she had a solid round behind five birdies – 4, 7, 9,14 and 17.

American amateur Magha Ganne, the 17-year-old junior high from New Jersey, is tied or third to fourth places with South Korea’s Jeongeun Lee6 at three-under with a three-day total of 210.

Ganne shot a 72, while Lee6 carded a 73.

The two teenagers, Saso and Ganne, will be with Thompson in the final grouping scheduled to tee off at 10:35 a.m. (1:35 a.m. Monday in Manila).

“It’s definitely a little bit more intense than any other tournament on a Sunday,” Thompson, who won a majors title during the 2014 Ana Inspiration, said. “But like I said before, I love playing in front of the fans and everything.”

China’s Shanshan Feng is at solo fifth at 211, while tied for sixth to seventh are Japan’s Nasa Hataoka and Megan Khang of the US at 212. At solo eighth place is world No. 2 Park at 213.

Three players are tied for ninth to 11th, American Anegl Lim, Korea’s Hyojoo Kim and amateur Maja Stark of Sweden all at 214.