Yuka Saso’s latest achievement bolsters PH’s golden hope

Yuka Saso of the Philippines celebrates with the Harton S. Semple Trophy after winning the 76th US Women’s Open Championship at the Olympic Club on June 6, 2021 in San Francisco, California. Ezra Shaw / Getty Images / AFP

The likelihood of winning that first slippery gold medal at the next Olympics has just increased for the Philippines team.

Thrilled by the triumph of golf ace Yuka Saso at the recent US Open, Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said the likelihood of more Filipino athletes winning this gold medal at the Tokyo Summer Games has become bigger.

“His confidence level (Saso) has definitely increased and that will be his advantage at the Olympics,” Tolentino said Tuesday after the POC General Assembly at East Ocean Palace in Paranaque City.

“Yuka’s achievement just added more chances for us to finally win a gold medal,” added the Cavite representative and president of PhilCycling.

In addition to Saso, the POC also relies on golfer Bianca Pagdanganan, world gymnastics champion Carlos Yulo, boxer Nesthy Petecio and Eumir Marcial, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz and pole vaulter EJ Obiena to cross the historic milestone.

Bones Floro, secretary general of the National Golf Association of the Philippines, said Saso and Pagdanganan will compete in the Tokyo Games with golfer Juvic Pagunsan.

“There are only a few tournaments left before the cutoff and their rankings are almost secure. We just can’t officially announce it right now, ”said Floro.

Saso’s feat at the US Open propelled the 19-year-old Asian Games champion to ninth place in the Olympic world golf rankings.

Pagdanganan is ranked 42nd and Pagunsan 51st in the men’s standings, where the top 60 from both divisions will advance to the Olympics to be announced by the International Golf Federation on June 22.

“Even before his victory at the US Open (Saso), we always knew that a medal (at the Olympics) was within reach, if not gold,” said Floro.

“I can say the same for Bianca. They are both able to stand on the podium for sure, ” he added.

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