Saso, Pagdanganan start US Open bids
Japan Tour hotshot Yuka Saso and US LPGA rookie Bianca Pagdanganan open their bids in the $5.5-million Women’s US Open on Thursday at the Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas.Saso, a multileg winner on the JLPGA and the 23-year-old Pagdanganan will be playing in their first major tournament as a 156-strong field will try to close out the year on a bright note.
With two wins and eight top 10 finishes, Saso surely has the game needed, while Pagdanganan will be taking her booming drives to the tournament where Sei Young-kim of South Korea is listed as one of the favorites and eight of the Top 10 players in the world are seeing action.
After picking up her maiden major title at the Women’s PGA Championship in October, the second-ranked Kim has 12 wins on the LPGA Tour.
“I felt like previously my game fluctuated quite a bit throughout the season, but this season what’s been different was I was able to be consistent with my performance,” Kim said. “And because I’m playing well, I just want to continue on this momentum and try to finish strong every tournament.”
She hopes to dethrone her 25-year-old compatriot Jin Young-ko from the top of the world rankings, but will have to beat back fearsome competitors including returning champion Jeong Eun-lee, world No. 3 Nelly Korda of the United States and fourth-ranked Danielle Kang, who won two LPGA titles this year but took a few weeks off from competition after October.
“I actually needed to tune up some stuff back at home with my game and feel like I was ready to play here,” said the 28-year-old American, who won the Women’s PGA Championship in 2017. “I need to have my height and I need to have my ball control. Distance off the tee is going to be huge.”
The tournament, which is in its 75th year and is the oldest of the women’s golf majors, has been rescheduled from June due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be held without fans in attendance.
Echoing others in the field this week, the third-ranked Korda said the two courses used in the tournament would pose a significant challenge.
“I have never done this before, so there’s a lot more yardage books,” said the 22-year-old American, who has three LPGA titles to her name and finished tied for second in the ANA Inspiration in September.
“A lot more prep. These greens definitely play a big role, and so I’ve been working a lot around the greens.”