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Fil-Japanese has the bullseye on her back

Saso wary of her opponents, especially the Thailand stars.

In-form Yuka Saso sets out as the marked player among the elite field all primed up for the Philippine Ladies Open Golf Championship 2017, which gets going tomorrow at Wack Wack Golf and Country Club’s West Course in Mandaluyong.

But despite her run of impressive feats, the 15-year-old Fil-Japanese has opted to downplay her chances in the country’s premier amateur championship presented by Champion Infinity, saying the field is strong and anything can happen at Wack Wack.

“There are too many good players around, especially the Thais. So I’ll just pray and hope for the best,” said Saso, who will be coming into the event exuding confidence following her wire-to-wire triumph in the Phillippine Amateur Golf Championship last Sunday where she beat Korean Hee Ji Kim by nine.

The national team spearhead and Queen Sirikit Cup veteran also won the third World Junior Girls championship and led the Philippines to the team crown in Canada last September, reached the semifinals of the 2016 US Women’s Amateur and won a pro tournament on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour, also last year.

Still, Saso said the PLO field is teeming with talent, picking the Thais and the Taiwanese as the likely title contenders along with the Malaysians, the Koreans and the Singaporeans.

She also named Harmie Constantino and a host of local players, who are all raring to get a crack at the crown in the blue-ribbon event backed by Lexus, Metro Pacific Investments, CranUTI, Texas Eagle, San Miguel Corp., Botanika, Enclave, Taishan Insurance Broker’s Inc. , Inquirer, Cherrylume, Alveo, Manila Golf, G&W Clubshares, Alabang Ladies Golf Chapter, Canlubang Golf Club, Forest Hills Golf Club, Sta. Elena Golf Club, Tagaytay Higlands, Gatorade, Ladies Philippine Golf Tour, Vermogen, Atty. Gilberto Duavit and Water World Trading Inc.

They include Sofia Legaspi, Bianca Pagdanganan, Diana Araneta, Felicia Medalla, Kristine Torralba, Mikaela Arroyo and the mainstays of Team The Country Club, led by Pauline del Rosario, Sofia Chabon, Mikha Fortuna, Abby Arevalo and Bernice Ilas along with 12-year-old Annyka Cayabyab.

But the Thais are also out to reclaim the crown won by compatriots Supamas Sangchan twice in 2013-14 and Pimnipa Panthong in 2015 before Princess Superal nailed one last year at Tagaytay Midlands.

Young star Atthaya Thitikul, Napabhach Boon-In and Tunrada Piddon will banner Thailand’s bid while Singapore is fielding in a nine-player delegation in the Open category headed by Faldo Series campaigners Denise Wong and Jaqueline Young. Taiwan will be led by Jennifer Chi Wu, Lili Hsu and Lanfen Hsieh while Korea will be represented by Yang Ju Young.

Eighty-four players have so far confirmed their participation in the event organized and conducted by the Women’s Golf Association of the Philippines. For details, call WGAP tournament chairperson Maisa Catindig at (632) 5564298 or email maisa_catindig@yahoo.com or secretariat@wgap-golf.com (WGAP president Anna Haurie).

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