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Saso waxes hot but wobbles to slip to joint 30th; Ardina rebounds

MANILA, Philippines – Yuka Saso made an early blast and moved on top that however lasted just after a few holes as she faltered in the last 10 and wound up with a 73 instead. He slipped to joint 30th halfway through the Maybank Championship still paced by Thai Jasmine Suwannapura in Malaysia Friday.

At joint 10th after a 69 Thursday, Saso stirred up play early with a birdie-eagle feat from No. 2 as she surged past a slew of others to seize the provisional lead at eight-under. But after a run of pars, the 2021 US Women’s Open champion fumbled with a double bogey on the ninth and never recovered.

She played the backside of the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club at two-over with bogeys on Nos. 12 and 17 as the ICTSI-backed ace finished with 34 putts, seven more than what she had posted in her three-under par effort in the first round of the $3 million event of the LPGA Tour.

With a 140 aggregate, Saso fell by eight shots behind Suwannapura, who stayed at the helm with a 69 for a 132 but a host of others stood just a stroke or two behind, ensuring a wild weekend battle for top honors in the 72-hole championship, the first of two LPGA events in region, the other being the TOTO Classic in Japan next week.

American Rose Zhang carded a 68 to grab solo second at 133 while Frenchwoman Celine Boutier turned in a brilliant 64 to tie Taiwanese Peiyun Chien (69) and Aussie Hannah Green (70) at third at 134.

But while Saso wavered, Dottie Ardina recovered big from an opening 73 with a 68 for a share of 37th at 141.

Ardina, whose campaign is also supported by the world’s leading port operator, came through with a pair of back-to-back birdie feats from Nos. 3 and 17 and her fifth birdie on the 13th negated her lone miscue on No. 7.

She finished with 28 putts after hitting 10 fairways on a subdued 233-yard driving norm while reaching regulation 14 times.

The Tour’s top guns also remained in the hunt with Koreans A Lim Kim and Sei Young Kim, Canada’s Brooke Henderson, Chinese Ruoning Yin, all major champions, matching 136s for a share of sixth with Gina Kim of the US, Swede Linn Grant, Thai Chanettee Wannasaen and Scot Gemma Dryburgh.

A Lim Kim fired a 66, Sei Young Kim and