Yuka stalks U.S. leader

I need to work on my approach and driver shot a little bit and I think everything will be fine.

Yuka Saso of Japan watches her tee shot on the sixth hole during the second round of the Dana Open presented by Marathon at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio Friday. | Gregory Shamus/agence france-presse

Yuka Saso bucked an early double bogey to salvage two-under par 69 and stay in the hunt in the Dana Open Championship at the Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio Friday.

The 21-year-old Filipino-Japanese started and finished strong with five birdies to counter a bogey and a double bogey and stay within five shots off halfway American leader Lucy Li on 5-under 137.

Starting on the back nine, Saso opened with back-to-back birdies before reaching the turn on even par following two dropped shots on the par-4, 15th hole.

She dropped to 1-over for the day after a bogey on 3 before picking up birdies on 4, 5, and 8.

Saso missed only three fairways and five greens and needed only 28 putts.

Meanwhile, Bianca Pagdanganan matched Saso’s 69 after a much-improved tee-to-green effort but her opening 80 was too much to overcome.

She missed the cut for the seventh time this season.

Pagdanganan found 9 of 14 fairways and reached 15 of 18 greens but still putted 31 times, still too many for a player her caliber.

She birdied 2, 9, and 10 before making her first and only bogey on 15.

Li fired a bogey-free seven-under-par 64 to seize a two-stroke lead.

A 19-year-old prodigy of Chinese heritage who played in the US Women’s Open at age 11, Li stood on 10-under 132 after 36 holes at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio.

“Hitting it really good,” Li said. “Just got a few more putts to drop today.”

Chinese 19-year-old Yin Ruoning and Spain’s Carlota Ciganda, who shared the 18-hole lead with South Korea’s Choi Hye-jin, each fired 69s to share second on 134.

Defending champion Nasa Hataoka of Japan fired a 66 to stand on 135 with Choi, Taiwan’s Hsu Wei-ling, Germany’s Caroline Masson, and American Lexi Thompson.

After two victories this year on the US women’s developmental tour, Li has already secured a 2023 LPGA berth.

“Just having that good experience will definitely help me going into the weekend,” Li said.

Yin, who also began on the back nine, answered bogeys at the 11th and par-5 17th with birdies on the next hole each time. She also birdied the par-5 seventh and the ninth.

“Teeing off super early. I just feel part of me still in the bed,” Yin said. “Just tried to save some pars out there, make some putts.”

World No. 421 Yin, a rookie making only her 12th LPGA start and coming off a wrist injury, missed the cut in seven of her nine prior LPGA starts this year.

“I just need to keep putting and keep shooting good shots,” Yin said. “I need to work on my approach and driver shot a little bit and I think everything will be fine.”

World No. 40 Ciganda made birdies at the third, ninth, and par-3 14th holes with a lone bogey at the fifth.

“Overall, I played good,” Ciganda said. “Made a couple of saves, gave me some chances. I would have liked a couple more birdies but I’m in a good position going into the weekend.”

World number 18 Choi, a rookie chasing her first LPGA victory, shared second at last week’s Canadian Open, her ninth top-10 showing of the season.

Australia’s Hannah Green fired a bogey-free 62, the week’s low round, to stand on 136.

Germany’s Aline Krauter, making her pro debut on a sponsor’s exemption, fired a 71 to stand on 137.


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