Amateur Yuka Saso birdied four of the last six holes to seize the lead with a four-under 67 yesterday in the opening round of the ICTSI Manila Golf Ladies Classic.
Averaging 285 yards off the tee, Saso hit all but one fairways and missed the green only once to take a two-shot lead over Taiwanese pros Chang Ching-Ling and Chen Hsuan.
Saso, the 17-year-old Asian Games champion, bogeyed the third hole, but made no mistake after that to stamp her class in the $100,000 event.
“It was fantastic, everything was in place although it was pretty hot and the wind blew late in the game,” said Saso, coming off a joint third place in the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur in Georgia over the weekend.
Chang and Chen were tied for second following identical 69s, a stroke ahead of Singapore’s Sock Hwee Koh, Thais Chommapat Pongthanarak (34-36), Pimpadsorn Sangkagaro (32-38) and Arpichaya Yubol (36-34).
Pauline del Rosario, the Order of Merit champion two years ago, dropped two shots on the 17th hole and fell to joint eighth at even par 71 with Taiwanese Hsin Lee, Japanese Mina Nakayama and Thai Goonlacha Paiboonpong.
Reigning OOM champion Princess Superal shot a 74 and was in the company of compatriots Mia Piccio and Daniella Uy and Taiwanese top bets Babe Liu and Lin Tzu-Chi.