Tokyo Olympics-bound golfers Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan of the Philippines both shot an even-par 71 in the first round of the Marathon LPGA Classic Thursday (Friday in Manila) at the Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio in the US.
Saso, the 20-year-old reigning US Women’s Open champion, only made a single birdie, which happened on hole No. 4, and committed a bogey on the par-5 hole No. 17 in the $2 million event.
The 23-year-old Pagdanganan, on the other hand, had birdies on 7 and 17, but had the same number of bogeys that occurred on 3 and the par-3 hole 8 to tie Saso and 20 others at even par.
Dottie Ardina – another Filipino in the tournament – is also part of the golfers tied for 65th to 85th places as she also finished at even-par 71.
They are 10 shots behind leader Nasa Hataoka of Japan as she fired a 10-under-par 61 behind 10 birdies. Hataoka is the same golfer Saso edged in a three-hole playoff in the US Women’s Open early this month.
Saso and Pagdanganan – both backed by ICTSI – are using the tournament as part of preparation for the Olympics in Japan, which will host the women’s golf tournament on Aug. 4 to 7 at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Saitama.
Saso booked a spot as the No. 8 world ranked player and eighth ranked in the Olympics released by the International Golf Federation (IGF), while Pagdanganan – No. 165 in the world – is the 44th ranked player out of 60 that will vie for the gold medal.
The men’s tournament, where Juvic Pagunsan will carry the fight for the Philippines, is set July 29 to August 1.