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Late eagle boosts Yuka Saso lead to five

CALAMBA, Laguna, Philippines  — Amateur Yuka Saso gunned down a late eagle to spike a brilliant five-under 67 and threatened to smother the pro field with a whopping five-stroke lead over Pauline del Rosario and Thai Ploychompoo Wirairungreung after two rounds of the ICTSI Ayala Greenfield Ladies Challenge here yesterday.

Making up for her mid-round meltdown that enabled Thais Thanuttra Boonraksasat and Wirairungreung to grab a share of the first day honors at 72 Wednesday, Saso tamed the wind and the undulating surface of Ayala Greenfield Golf and Country Club with superb shotmaking, iron game and putting.

Yuka Saso braces for a big final round charge from the big guns. Ernie Peñaredondo
She hit two early birdies, negated a bogey on No. 5 with another birdie on the next then hit another birdie on No. 13 before capping her 34-33 card with a spectacular eagle on the par-5 17th off a solid 50-degree wedge shot from 80 yards that bounced once and rolled into the cup.

And while her fancied pro rivals hobbled on the hilly layout in windy conditions and struggled on the tricky surface, the 16-year-old Fil-Japanese made it look easy and moved 18 holes away from humbling an elite pro cast with a 36-hole aggregate of five-under 139.

“I was just lucky to score this low as strong winds lashed the course all day. It was really fantastic,” said Saso, who also pounced on Del Rosario and Wirairungreung’s shaky finish to storm to a five-stroke lead heading to the last 18 holes of the P750,000 tournament sponsored by ICTSI.

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