By Mark Allan Cervantes
(August 7, 2021) – Yuka Saso fought back from a dismal opening day to finish the women’s golf competition in the Tokyo Olympics on a high note, ending up tied for 9th place with a 10-under-par 274 across four rounds.
Saso, who saw herself in 47th place on day 1, started slow in the final round on Saturday at the Kasumigaseki Country Club, recording a single bogey in hole 4, but immediately canceled it out with a birdie in hole 5.
The reigning US Women’s Open champion came roaring back on the back nine, going bogey-less and hitting three consecutive birdies in holes 12 to 14. She closed the tournament in style, delivering an eagle in the penultimate 17, punctuating her Olympic debut with another birdie in hole 18.
Bianca Pagdanganan, however, wasn’t as proficient. She finished the competition tied at 43rd place, carding a 3-over-par 74 and an overall score of 1-over-par 285 at the end of the four-day tournament. The 23-year-old didn’t have a good start on day 4, as she bogeyed the very first hole. Pagdanganan made an even-par for the next six holes before delivering her first birdie in hole 8.
Her struggles continued in the second half of the round, hitting a bogey in hole 12 and a double-bogey in hole 18, as she ended without a single birdie on her back nine.
The final day of the contest became a furious race at the top of the leaderboard, with six golfers still in contention for a podium finish heading into the last two holes before play was temporarily suspended due to inclement weather.
A nail-biting finish ensued as play resumed with Japan’s Mone Inami temporarily taking the lead from United States’ Nelly Korda after recording a birdie in hole 17. But nerves got the better of the hometown bet, failing to keep the lead as she committed a crucial bogey in the last hole.
Korda, a six-time winner on the LPGA Tour, was steady in her last two holes, carding straight even-pars to secure the gold medal with an overall score of 17-under par 267. Inami settled for the silver medal after a play-off against New Zealand’s Lydia Ko, who completed the top three.
With Korda’s win, United States swept the golf competitions in the Tokyo Olympics, with Xander Schauffele ruling the men’s division. (PM)