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Fil-Japanese golfer shows the way

Yuka Saso went after the pins like the championship was on the line and went on to post a six-under-par 66 Tuesday (Wednesday Manila time) that gave the Fil-Japanese a two-stroke lead in the girls 15-18 years division of the IMG Academy Junior World Championships in San Diego, California.

Her confidence boosted by impressive stints even in professional events recently, the 16-year-old Saso highlighted a fiery round at Torrey Pines North with an eagle on the par-5 17th where she holed a putt from 30 feet as the national team standout stepped ahead of Thailand’s Kan Bunnabodee who shot a 68.

Mikha Fortuna likewise had an impressive start with a 71 for a share of 10th in the same division and so did Rianne Malixi and Eagle Ace Superal who barged into the Top 6 of their divisions.

Superal, seeking to win another title for family of Junior World champions, was among those tied for fifth in the girls 11-12 years play at Bernardo Heights Country Club while Malixi started four shots behind in a six-way tie for sixth place despite a 74 at the Sycuan Oak-Glen.

Out to atone for a failed bid last year where she led by four going to the final round but could only place third, Saso’s explosive start also saw her shoot birdies on Nos. 1, 5, 6, 9, 10 and 11th holes. The only strokes she yielded were those of a three-putt bogey on the seventh and a 15th green on an errant tee-shot.