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Saso closes in on title

Yuka Saso and Kim Joo Hyung came away with a pair of five-under 67s to all but wrap up their respective second straight titles with huge leads after three rounds of the Philippine Junior Amateur Open Golf Championships (Strokeplay) at the Sherwood Hills Golf Club in Trece Martirez, Cavite yesterday.

Saso, who pulled away by five over Junia Gabasa despite a second round 72 Wednesday, birdied four of the first five holes in impressive fashion, rammed in two more on Nos. 11 and 13 but failed to complete a bogey-free stint with a missed green mishap on the par-3 16th for a 32-35 card.

Still, that moved Saso, 16, closer to a repeat victory in the country’s premier junior tournament serving as part of the PLDT Group National Amateur Golf Tour and sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation as she assembled a 54-hole aggregate of nine-under 207, eight strokes clear of a late-charging fellow national teammate Harmie Constantino.

The 16-year-old Constantino rebounded from a woeful second 78 with a 68 but the reigning W Express-RVF Cup champion could only pool a 219 heading to the final 18 holes of the annual event backed by Cignal and Metro Pacific Investment and organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines.

Gabasa dropped to third at 220 after a 74 while Kristine Torralba carded a 75 for a 229 and Nicole Abelar shot a 74 for a 230.

Kim actually turned in a more impressive 67, a bogey-free 34-33 card that put the young, talented Korean way ahead at 212, six shots ahead of Ryan Monsalve, who tied Kim after 36 holes but faltered with a 73 marred by a triple-bogey 7 on No. 14.