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Saso raises lead to 5

Yuka Saso slowed down with a 72 but padded her lead to five as her rivals faltered with over-par scores even as Kim Joo Hyung of Korea and local ace Ryan Monsalve surged ahead in the boys’ side midway through the Philippine Junior Amateur Open Golf Championships (Strokeplay) at the Sherwood Hills Golf Club in Trece Martirez, Cavite yesterday.

After an eagle-spiked 68 in the first round, Saso settled for a three-birdie, three-bogey stint in the heat to pool a 36-hole aggregate of 140 and move five strokes clear of Junia Gabasa and closer to scoring a title repeat in the 72-hole championship serving as part of the PLDT Group National Amateur Golf Tour and sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation.

Gabasa, who held her ground and shot a 71 Tuesday, bogeyed two of the first four holes and went on to card a 74, staying at second but falling farther back by five with a 145 in the event backed by Cignal and Metro Pacific Investment and organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines.

Former national champion Harmie Constantino virtually bowed out with a 78 for a 151, 11 shots off the pace, while Kristine Torralba and Korean Yang Ju Young stood at 154 and 155 after an 80 and 77, respectively.

That should make Saso’s task easier with the reigning World Junior Girls gold medalist expected to step up her title-retention drive and nail the first berth in the national team bound for the SEA Games in Malaysia this August.