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Yuka in striking spot in Ford tourney

MANILA, Philippines — Fil-Japanese Yuka Saso moved to striking position in the race for the Ford Championship crown after a third-round three-under 69 on a windy Saturday in Gilbert, Arizona.

Saso gunned down eight birdies to make up for three bogeys and one double-bogey en route to 14-under 202 that put her just one off the lead pack entering the final push.

The Tokyo Olympics veteran, who had previous cards of 70 and 63, hit 11 of 14 fairways on a 284-yard driving average and reached 12 greens in regulation.

Saso now has the chance to steal the thunder from joint leaders Carlota Ciganda of Spain (66), Hyo Joo Kim of Korea (69) and Sarah Schmelzel of the US (70), who are a whisker away at 201, and win her first event since her historic US Women’s Open triumph in 2021.

Maja Stark of Sweden (66) shares No. 4 with Saso going to the last 18 holes of the $2.25-million inaugural event.

“The conditions were obviously a lot different compared to the first two days. Lots of wind, you know, three clubs difference on some holes. Still I think I played okay with the wind,” Saso said. “Controlled myself out there. Didn’t have a lot of misses. So I think it was a good day.”

Bianca Pagdanganan has already bombed out after falling short of the 139 halfway cutline by a mere one stroke.