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Saso, Pagdanganan launch LPGA bids; Ardina wages battle in Taiwan

MANILA, Philippines, February 22 ------ Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan kick off their LPGA Tour campaigns close to home, both aiming for strong starts in the Honda LPGA Thailand reeling off at the Siam Country Club’s Old course in Chonburi.


As noted long hitters and ICTSI stablemates, they hope to ignite their title pursuits in the morning wave. Pagdanganan will tee off at 8:14 a.m. on the first hole alongside Mexico’s Gaby Lopez and Madelene Sagstrom of Sweden. Coming into the $1.7-million championship with renewed motivation after regaining her Tour card last year, Pagdanganan, who missed the first two legs of this year’s LPGA, has spent recent weeks honing her skills at home.


Saso, who also skipped the first two LPGA events in Florida in January, competed in last week’s Saudi Ladies International, finishing joint seventh. She hopes to build on this performance, seeking her first victory since scoring a major breakthrough in the US Women’s Open in 2021. The Filipino-Japanese faces India’s Aditi Ashok and Akie Iwai of Japan at 8:50 a.m. at the backside of the 6,576-yard layout.


The competition is fierce, with defending champion and world No. 1 Lilia Vu of the US leading the stellar cast. Vu opens defense of her title in the second-to-last group at 10:02 a.m. on the first hole. She tangles with former world No. 1 Jin Young Ko of Korea and local ace Ariya Jutanugarn, also a two-time major winner. Notable players in the mix are Korean Sei Young Kim, Celine Boutier of France, Chinese Ruoning Yin, American Danielle Kang, Canada’s Brooke Henderson, Swede Linn Grant, Hinako Shibuno and Nasa Hataoka of Japan, and Hyo Joo Kim, A Lim Kim and Eun Hee Ji, all of Korea.


All eyes will also be on Thai Patty Tavatanakit, who placed last here last year but dominated the Saudi Ladies in wire-to-wire fashion last week. Over in Taiwan, Epson Tour campaigner Dottie Ardina faces a solitary challenge in the Foxconn TLPGA Players Championship, which also unwraps Thursday at the Orient Golf and Country Club in Taoyuan City. Ardina, whose campaign is also sponsored by ICTSI, will be playing along Japanese Rio Takeda and local bet Phoebe Yao at 10 a.m. on the first hole.


The $1-million, four-day championship, also the third leg of this year’s LPGA of Taiwan Tour, also features Thais Saraporn Chamchoi, Kultida Pramphun, Supamas Sangchan, Wannasiri Sirisampant, Onkanok Soisuwan, Chonalada Chayanun and multi-titled PK Kongkraphan. The hosts, including Babe Liu, Tsai-Ching Tseng, Chengh Hsuan Shih, Jessica Peng and Ching Huang, seek to defend their turf with familiarity on the par-72 layout.




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