Saso fires 64 to seize 2-shot lead in Hawaii
Pinay golfer holds off NZ’s Ko in 2nd rd
Yuka Saso of the Philippines delivered a solid second round performance as she carded another eight-under-par 64 for a two-shot lead over Lydia Ko of New Zealand in the LPGA Lotte Championship Friday at the Kapolei Course in Hawaii. The 19-year-old Filipino golfer matched her first round total, and her last two birdies on 16 and 17 gave her a two-shot lead on the 15-time LPGA tour champion Ko, who fired a 63.
Saso, who is in the tournament on a sponsor's exemption, was at 10-under through three holes in the second round after birdies on 1 and 3, but she committed a bogey on 4.
However, Saso – a double gold medalist during the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia and recipient of the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Athletes of the Year – quickly recovered with a string of birdies to close out the front nine for a 31.
She started the back nine with another birdie, before that backto-back birdie conversion on 16 and 17. Overall, Saso made nine birdies, surpassing her eight in the opening round of this LPGA tour event.
Saso, who won two tournaments as a rookie last year in the Japan LPGA tour, now has a two-day total of 128.
"Two more days, I'm trying to get used to it," said Saso, who likens the Hawaii weather in the Philippines.
"It's like Philippines but colder than Philippines and windier than Philippines. I made some good putts, had good up and downs, my driving was very consistent today.”
The 23-year-old Ko, a two-time majors winner, was even spectacular with her bogey-free performance that saw her convert nine birdies. Together with her 67 in the first round, she is now at 14-under 130.
"I started off well birdieing my first two holes, and then I think I just continuously gave myself opportunities," Ko said.
"Especially around a golf course like this, the more times you're putting for birdie or having chances to putt for birdie the better.”
"Especially when the winds come, I think it's a course where some players can go really low, so feel like I was able to do a pretty good job at that, and nice finishing off with a birdie on the last (hole)," she added.
Four players are tied at 133, South Korea’s Hyo Joo Kim and So Yeon Ryu, Spain’s Luna Sobron Galmes and American Nelly Korda. Galmes carded a second round 64, Kim shot a 65, while Korda and Ryu – a two-time majors champion – finished with similar 68.
At seventh to ninth places are Brianna Do and Ally Ewing of the United States, and Korea’s Sei Young Kim at 134, while six players are locked in a tie for 10th to 15th places, including Saso’s co-leader in the first round, American Brittany Altamore all at 135.