Golfers Strike 2 Golds in Asian Games
JAKARTA—It was a golden Sunday twice over for the Philippines as Filipino-Japanese Yuka Saso powered the country to a sweep of individual and team honors in a nerve-wracking final round in the 18th Asian Games golf competition at the Pondok Indah Golf and Country Club course.
With the gold on the line and three shots down entering the last hole, Saso sank a pressure-laden eagle putt from 10 feet on the par-five 19th as erstwhile leader, China’s Liu Wenbo, collapsed with a quadruple bogey on the same hole in a dramatic conclusion at the par-72, 6,252-yard layout.
With identical three-under 33s in the front nine, Saso, 17, capped her golden Asian Games debut with a four-round tally of 275, three shots better than Liu, who slumped to a 73 and settled for the silver with a 278 aggregate.
As icing on the Philippine cake, Bianca Panganiban came charging home with a similar six-under 66 to snatch the individual bronze medal with a combined 72-hole score of 279.
With the sterling final-round performances of Saso and Panganiban, the squad, which included Louis Kay Go, rallied to lift the team championship trophy with a four-round output of 554, relegating South Korea to silver (557) and China to bronze (558).
In just one day, the prolific Filipina parbusters were able to contribute two golds and one bronze to the country’s overall medal tally, tripling the lone gold won by BMX rider Danny Caluag in the Incheon edition four years ago.
Their glowing achievement also ended a 32-year gold-medal drought in the sport since former amateur standout Ramon Brobio bagged the individual men’s mint in the 1986 Seoul Asian Games.
“I feel very happy. I really don’t know what to say,” enthused Saso of her memorable maiden appearance in this continental sports showcase. “Sobrang saya at ganda ang experience ko this week.”
“I just never lost faith in myself and I never doubted this team form the behinning,” Saso said. “We are all fighters and we really fought hard for our country.”
And it is bound to get even better since like weighlifter Hidylin Diaz, who delivered the country’s first mint here, will get a total of P6 million in incentives for her individual gold alone plus much more for the team gold.
Idolized by fans as a big star back home, chef de mission Richard Gomez, who watched the team from the gallery, couldn’t help himself and was just like an ordinary fan and asked to be photographed together with the country’s latest sensations.