THE National Golf Association of the Philippines (NGAP) believes the country has a realistic chance of winning medals in the Tokyo Olympics especially with the recent success of Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan, and Juvic Pagunsan.
“All three of our athletes have realistic chances of podium finishes, if not, even gold,” said NGAP secretary general Bones Floro during Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.
Olympic spots for Saso, Pagdanganan, and Pagunsan are a mere formality as they are within the Top 60 in the Olympic Golf Rankings (OGR), with Saso now at No. 8 a week after her historic win ta the US Women’s Open.
Pagdanganan, meanwhile, is currently at No. 42 in the OGR after an impressive rookie season in 2020 that saw her lead the LPGA Tour in driving distance.
Pagunsan is also bound for Tokyo at No. 51 in the OGR, thanks to his drought-ending victory at the Mizuno Open in the Japan Tour.
Floro won’t be surprised if the trio's good form will carry over to the Tokyo Games.
“They have proven it. They have heart, determination, their work ethic is amazing. Sobrang disiplinado mga atleta natin, mga Olympian natin. I’ve worked with them, seen them, and are friends with all three of them,” said Floro.
“Ang confidence level ng tatlo naka-peak na. They are doing very well with their mental aspect. People say [golf is] 90 percent mental. I think our three athletes have that covered,” added Floro.
Floro also pointed out that the three are familiar with the summer weather in Asia particularly in Japan where Saso and Pagunsan are based.
The Kasumigaseki Country Club, the venue for the Tokyo Olympics, could also be advantageous for the Philippine bets depending on how the course will be laid out by technical officials, he added.
“I personally have not seen it but I’ve done the research and checked it out on 3D imaging. And it all depends on how the technical officials will set it up … Definitely, if they set it up long, it favors our ladies because Yuka and Bianca are considered to be among the stronger amongst professional length. They are in the upper tier in that aspect. And Juvic is also a strong player. It suits them better if it’s a longer course definitely. It will be to their advantage especially to our ladies.”
“I don’t know if they are going to set it up tightly. Again, if they do that, as you saw the skill level of Yuka getting out of the deep rough, she has proven na kaya niya. If it’s tight, then it favors her again,” said Floro.