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Saso cards eagle-spiked 69; Pagdanganan rebounds with 66

MANILA, Philippines -- Yuka Saso failed to sustain an eagle start and yielded a stroke to Nelly Korda in their head-to-head battle. She finished with a 69 and dropped to joint 16th, now seven strokes behind Alison Lee of the US and Japanese Nasa Hataoka halfway through CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Florida Friday (Saturday Manila time).

For her part, Saso's ICTSI stablemate Bianca Pagdanganan gained 22 spots with a blistering 66 spiked by four birdies in the last five holes as she jumped from a share of 55th to joint 33rd at 139 after a first round 73.

Pagdanganan, however, will have a lot of catching up to do as Lee pulled abreast with Hataoka at 14-under 130 with a 64 after the Japanese, who shared the first round lead with Chinese Ruoning Yin with 63 Thursday, carded a 67.

Yin likewise settled for a 68 to fall to tied third with Korean Amy Yang (63) and Aussie Minjee Lee (67) at 131, just a shot off the joint leaders.

Saso opened her second round campaign in the $7-million championship with two solid shots, leading to an eagle on the par-5 No. 1. She birdied the third to keep her going and rebounded from a mishap on No. 5 with a birdie on the next.

But the 2021 US Women’s Open winner, who matched Korda’s opening 68, yielded another stroke on the 11th, missed a couple of chances before dominating the last long hole on No. 17 to post a 33-36 round.

Korda fell behind by three to Saso with a frontside 36 but flashed backside brilliance with four birdies, including on the last two holes to produce a 68 and a share of 10th with five others, including world No. 1 and fellow American Lilia Vu, who rallied with a 66, at 136.

While Saso improved from her 32-putt showing in the first round with a 29 and stayed steady off the mound, hitting 11 fairways, she struggled with her iron play, missing the greens six times although she rescued one par from the bunker.

Earlier, Pagdanganan mounted her own charge from way down the elite field, coming up with a three-birdie spree from No. 4 after a birdie-opening start. She dropped a stroke on the ninth but rattled off another three-birdie binge from No. 14 before holing out with another feat for a 34-32 and a 139, nine