YUKA Saso survived a Round of 32 scare from Phoebe Brinker then ripped Anne Chen in the afternoon Last 16 clash to advance to the quarterfinals of the US Girls’ Junior at SentryWorld in Stevens Points, Wisconsin on Thursday (Friday, Manila time).
Saso fought back from one-hole down after seven holes with a birdie on the par-5 No. 9 then won three straight holes from No. 13 on birdies. She matched her 33rd-ranked rival’s par on the 16th to cap a 3&2 victory in morning play.
The 18-year-old Fil-Japanese then returned in the afternoon and stamped her class over Chen, taking two of the first five holes, birdied Nos. 9 and 10, won No. 12 on her rival’s double bogey then parred the next two to run away with a 5&4 triumph.
“I’m happy that I won three matches now,” said Saso, who ruled the Girls’ Junior PGA Championship in Connecticut two weeks ago and scored a 6&4 romp over Kaylee Sakoda from California in the Round of 64 Wednesday,
“Actually, I didn’t expect the result. It’s better than I expected … but it’s match play. Everything can happen. So just trying to focus and be ready,” added Saso.
But she will have her hands full against an equally impressive Rose Zhang, also from California, in the quarters on Friday morning with the winner bracing for another grueling stint in the semifinals in the afternoon.
Zhang, who settled for the No. 40 ranking after the 36-hole stroke play which Saso dominated, needed an extra hole to upend No. 25 Sophie Guo of China in the first round of the knockout phase.
She routed Michaela Morard, 7&6, in the Round of 32, behind a stirring five-birdie string in the first five holes.
The 16-year-old Zhang, who is ranked three rungs better than Saso at No. 22 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, then broke away from a tight match with fellow Californian Kelly Xu in the Round of 16 with back-to-back birdies from No. 11 then pounced on her rival’s bogeys on Nos. 14 and 15 to score a 4&3 victory to seal an interesting clash with Saso.
Other quarterfinals clashes pit No. 5 Jillian Bourdage from Florida versus No. 29 Lauren Beaudreau from Illinois, No. 7 Lei Ye of China against No. 34 Brooke Seay from California, and No. 11 Briana Chacon versus No. 46 Nicole Whiston in a duel of players from California.