Saso, Pagdangana­n begin gold bid amid scorching Japan heat


TOKYO—THE country’s gold medal campaign shifts back to the Kasumigase­ki Golf Club with Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdangana­n battling not only a star-studded field but also the scorching Japanese summer heat.

Pagdangana­n tees off at 7:52 a.m. with Ireland’s Leona Maguire and Finland’s Matilda Castren while Saso will be with Canada’s Brooke Henderson and American Lexi Thompson, the same golfer she chased to win the US Women’s Open.

The 20-year-old Saso tees off in the first round with a replacemen­t caddie after regular Lionel Matichuk was rushed to a hospital after suffering from heat stroke in a practice round on Tuesday.

National coach Miggy Alejandro will carry the bag for the world No. 8 Filipino-japanese, at least for the first round.

Saso and Pagdangana­n, gold medal winners at the Jakarta 2018 Asian Games, said the searing Japanese heat will pose a problem for most of the athletes.

“It’s very humid up here actually. It’s definitely a factor and you have to make sure you stay hydrated,” said Pagdangana­n, the longest hitter on the Ladies Profession­al Golfers Associatio­n Tour.

Saso, on the other hand, said playing with Thompson will be a pleasure.

“I’m going to be playing against top players but I’ve been playing against great players in my past couple of tournament­s so I’m going to enjoy it,” she said.

The wind could also be a factor as the Filipinas hope to duplicate Hidilyn Diaz’s weightlift­ing gold medal.

“You’re going to need to have control, especially with the putting,” Pagdangana­n said.

The greens, both players said, are in good shape.

“The greens are really good so it’s going to be a good test of accuracy and patience,” Pagdangana­n said.

According to the Associated Press, the nature of the women’s field is entirely different from the men last week, where all three medalists from Rio de Janeiro are back for their second Olympics.

There are 29 women in the field who competed in Rio, compared with nine men with the US and South Korea being the only countries with the maximum four players.

Thompson is the only returning American. She tied for 19th in Rio, while Inbee Park, the reigning gold medalist, and Sei Young Kim are back for South Korea.

Juvic Pagunsan represente­d the Philippine­s in the men’s contest where he finished in 55th place.

 ??  ??
 ?? AP ?? YUKA SASO (right) and Bianca Pagdangana­n face the challenge of a tough field and the scorching Japanese summer.
AP YUKA SASO (right) and Bianca Pagdangana­n face the challenge of a tough field and the scorching Japanese summer.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines