KAWAGOE, Japan—For Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan, it’s all about putting a nice icing on the cake for what has truly been an unforgettable performance by Team Philippines in the Tokyo Olympics here.
And to do that, they would need a podium finish, or better yet a gold medal, draped around the neck of either of them.
Like the way weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz did or maybe one of the two boxers still in the fight for a gold.
While she may have projected an image of a carefree rookie just trying to enjoy every chance of putting one over the big-name veterans, Saso’s name is beeping loudly on the Olympic radar this week at Kasumigaseki Country Club east course.
Saso is the US Women’s Open champion, that’s why, and the competition knows that she already has a feel on how it is beating the best in the world.
She also got the inspiration from Diaz: “It’s really great to see how she won the gold medal,” Saso said. “I think golf is a little bit different, it’s longer and we have to fight the heat and all that. So I’m just trying to enjoy and hopefully get the medal.”
What Saso knows is that, she’s glad that she was able to play in the Olympics and is “really looking forward to it.”
When she tees off with Lexi Thompson of the United States and Brooke Henderson of Canada in one of the featured groups, Saso will find herself being caddied by the national team coach Miko Alejandro, who subbed at the last minute for the Filipino ace’s Canadian caddie, Lionel Matichuk. Matichuk had to replaced by Alejandro after being hospitalized because of heatstroke on Monday night and was advised to rest.
Pagdanganan, meanwhile, is out to make the most of a chance to play in the Olympics, which she used to watch on TV as a kid.
“It’s every athlete’s dream to be able to play on the biggest stage of sports, so it’s definitely an honor to be playing out here and definitely representing the country, it’s really different when you’re playing for something bigger than yourself,” Pagdanganan said. “So yeah, I’m just going to try and enjoy this whole week and see what happens.”
Pagdanganan’s length counts as one of the longest among the world’s female players, and that will certainly come in handy with the layout to play to almost 7,000 yards. INQ
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