PH golfers Saso, Pagdanganan qualify for Tokyo Olympics

Published June 30, 2021, 7:26 AM

by Waylon Galvez

Bianca Paganganan, left, and Yuka Saso will vie for the gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics. (MB Photos)

Filipino golfers Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan have formally qualified to the Tokyo Olympics after the International Golf Federation (IGF) released the official list of 60 players in the women’s category Tuesday, June 29.

The National Golf Association of the Philippines (NGAP) confirmed the qualification of Saso and Pagdanganan as the national team now has 17 athletes for the Games set July 23 to August 8 in Japan.

Saso, the No. 8 world ranked player, is also eighth in the list released by the IGF, while Pagdanganan – No. 165 in the world – is the 44th player out of 60 that will vie for the gold medal.

Saso is the reigning US Women’s Open champion, which she won last June 6 to become the first Filipino to win the oldest and prestigious title – one of the five majors in women’s pro golf.

The 20-yer-old Filipino-Japanese also won the event in record fashion as she matched the record of In-bee Park of South Korea as the youngest winner in the championship’s history at 19 years, 11 months and 17 days.

Aside from the US Women’s Open title, Saso – a two-time Athlete of the Year of the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) – also has two professional titles in the Japan LPGA Tour, which came during her rookie year in 2020.

Pagdanganan, on the other hand, competes in the LPGA Tour in the US.

Together, the two were part of the gold medal wining team as amateurs for the Philippines during the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia. Saso also won the gold in the singles event while Pagdanganan settled with the bronze medal.

“Whilst we have known and been preparing for some time now on the participation of Yuka and Bianca in the Olympics, it was finally official late last night,” Bones Floro – Secretary General of the NGAP – said Wednesday, June 30 in a message to the Manila Bulletin.

“We in the NGAP are so very proud and excited for their achievements and representation of the country in this global arena. We join the rest of the nation in supporting and cheering them on towards a medal finish.”

The list for the women’s event in golf was finalized after the recently concluded KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in Atlanta, Georgia where American Nelly Korda emerged as the champion.

Korda, now the world No. 1, tops the list of golfers in the Olympics.

Aside from Saso and Pagdanganan, Juvic Pagunsan will also compete in the men’s division of golf in the Tokyo Olympics.

The men’s event in is set July 29 to August 1, while the women’s division will be played August 4 to 7at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe, Saitama, Japan.