After almost a month of rest, US Women’s Open champion Yuka Saso returns to action while fellow Filipino players Bianca Pagdanganan and Dottie Ardina seek a better finish when they compete in the 2021 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship set to start Thursday (Friday in Manila) at the Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Northwest Arkansas.
Saso last participated in the Women’s British Open last Aug. 22 where she placed tied for 39th. Since then, the 20-year-old Tokyo Olympics veteran has skipped an event in the LPGA Tour to rest.
Saso, the world No. 7 and third in the money list order this year, now comes well-prepared and determined to win a second championship after she bagged the US Women’s Open title last June.
A total of 144 players are entered in the $2.3 million tournament.
Aside from Saso – a double gold medalist in the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games back in 2018 in Indonesia – also expected to contend for the title is world No. 2 Jin Young Ko of South Korea.
Joining them are world No. 4 Sei Young Kim of Korea, No. 6 Lydia Ko of New Zealand, No. 8 Danielle Kang of the US, No. 9 Minjee Lee of Australia, and No. 10 Brooke Henderson of Canada.
American Austin Ernst is the defending champion in this event that was first included in the LPGA Tour back in 2007.
Saso is set to tee off at the back nine with Lee and Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit.
Meanwhile, Pagdanganan and Ardina are fresh from their participation in the Cambia Portland Classic with the former finishing tied for 30th, and the latter placing 54th overall at The Oregon Golf Club in West Linn, Oregon.
The said event was reduced to 54 holes because of heavy rain, which saw Pagdanganan earn $10,823 – or approximately P541,150 – while Ardina pocketed $4,217 (P210,850).
Pagdanganan is on the same flight with Americans Sydnee Michaels and Marissa Steen teeing off at hole 1, while Ardina will start her campaign at the back nine with Min Lee of Chinese Taipei and Aditi Ahsok of India.