CARMONA, Cavite – Amateur Yuka Saso recovered from a bogey mishap on the 17th with a brilliant approach shot for a tap-in birdie on the finishing hole as she carded a four-under 67 and swept past a host of pros to wrest the lead in the second round of Manila Southwoods Ladies Classic at Southwoods’ Legends course here yesterday.
Saso bucked the gale-force wind in the early going with a birdie on No. 4 then flashed her familiarity with the bunker-laden layout she calls home with three birdies in the first five holes at the back before flubbing a six-foot par-putt bid on the par-5 17th.
But she toughened up on the 18th, blasting a solid drive and hitting a superb wedge shot that landed two feet off the cup, highlighting a 34-33 card that shoved her from joint fifth to the top of the heap at six-under 136.
“I did my best in every hole but I think I pushed myself too hard on No. 17. Otherwise, everything is okay,” said Saso, at 14 already a veteran of many international competitions, including the Queen Sirikit Cup last May, and trying to become the third amateur to win this year after Princess Superal at Wack Wack and Hwang Min Jeong at Mt. Malarayat.
Mookharin Ladgratok turned from awesome to awful as the Thai bet, who took the opening round lead with a 66, reeled back with four bogeys with no birdie to show in a 75 round, tumbling down to eighth at 141, five strokes off Saso.
But four players, including fellow Fil-Japanese Chihiro Ikeda, stood just a stroke adrift at 137 while Lovelynn Guioguio rallied with a 68 for a 139, ensuring a spirited battle for the top P100,000 purse in the final leg of the eight-stage Ladies Philippine Golf Tour sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
Ikeda came in ruffled by the wind that blew from all over and said she was lucky to have salvaged a one-under 70 card that kept her in the title hunt at 137.