MANILA, Philippines — The first time they clashed, young Yuka Saso got the better of veteran Momoko Ueda but expect the latter to get back at the Fil-Japanese money leader in the Fujitsu Ladies 2020, which unwraps today at the Tokyu Seven Hundred Club in Chiba Prefecture, Japan.
Their pairing, which includes Asuka Kashiwabara, is but one of a number of compelling groupings highlighting the opener of the Y100 million event, which Saso hopes to use as springboard in her attempt to launch some sort of a second surge on the LPGA of Japan Tour after failing to contend in the last five tournaments following back-to-back title romps in NEC Karuizawa and Nitori Ladies last August.
But the 34-year-old Ueda is also all-set to spark her own version of a fightback following a number of stints marred by struggles coming off a sixth place effort in the British Women’s Open in Scotland, also last August. She did tie for third in the Japan Open two weeks ago but the two-leg winner last year ended up joint 19th in the weather-shortened Stanley Ladies last week.
In front of them of is an equally talent-laden pairing featuring major winners Saki Nagamine and Erika Hara and Descente Tokai Classic champion Ayaka Furue, who, then an amateur, beat Stanley Ladies titlist Mone Inami by two to rule this event last year.
Another threesome worth watching is the 9:40 a.m. group led by Earth Mondahmin Cup victor Ayaka Watanabe, Inami and current Player of the Year frontrunner and Golf5 Ladies champion Sakura Koiwai while multi-titled Ai Suzuki, Lala Anai and Arakaki Hina follow Saso’s group at 10:10 a.m. on No. 1 of the rolling 6,659-yard layout.
Ranged against the fancied Ueda in the Tokai Classic, Saso opened with a 68, six better than her rival but groped for a 73 in the second round and wound up eighth in the 54-hole event.
Ueda missed the cut but rebounded strong with a joint third finish in the next event, the Japan Open, where Saso wound up tied for 14th.
In their second first-round face-off, the ICTSI-backed Saso will be trying to ride the momentum of her closing 68 in the 36-hole Stanley Ladies that netted her a joint 12th place finish.
She, however, has opted to downplay her chances although she remained focused on the task at hand, including on the winner’s purse of Y18 million (roughly P8.3 million).
“Just because I did good the last time out doesn’t mean it would be the same the next time. That’s golf,” said Saso, who yielded the POTY lead to Koiwai but stayed on top of the money race with Y66,180,250 in earnings against Koiwai’s Y54,886,142.
“But I’m confident I will rise again,” she added.
Date: October 16, 2020 | By: Dante Navarro | Newspaper: Philippine Star | Source: https://www.philstar.com/sports/2020/10/16/2050007/saso-eyes-big-bounce-back/amp/