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Yuka’s latest feat bolsters PH golden hope

Yuka Saso of the Philippines celebrates with the Harton S. Semple Trophy after winning the 76th U.S. Women's Open Championship at The Olympic Club

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 06: Yuka Saso of the Philippines celebrates with the Harton S. Semple Trophy after winning the 76th U.S. Women’s Open Championship at The Olympic Club on June 06, 2021 in San Francisco, California. Saso won following a three-hole playoff against Nasa Hataoka of Japan. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by EZRA SHAW / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

The probability of clinching that slippery first gold medal in the coming Olympics just got higher for Team Philippines.

Elated with golfing ace Yuka Saso’s triumph in the recent US Open, Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham “Bambol’’ Tolentino said the likelihood of more Filipino athletes nailing that gold medal in the Tokyo Summer Games has become greater.

“Her (Saso) confidence level has definitely gone up and that will be her advantage in the Olympics,’’ said Tolentino on Tuesday after the POC General Assembly at East Ocean Palace in Paranaque City.

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

Apart from Saso, the POC is likewise banking on fellow golfer Bianca Pagdanganan, world champion gymnast Carlos Yulo, boxer Nesthy Petecio and Eumir Marcial, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz and pole vaulter EJ Obiena to pull off the historical golden milestone.

Bones Floro, secretary general of the National Golf Association of the Philippines, has assured that Saso and Pagdanganan will be in the Tokyo Games together with male golfer Juvic Pagunsan.

“There are only a few tournaments left before the cutoff and their rankings are almost secured. We just can’t announce it formally yet,’’ said Floro.

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

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

“Even before this US Open win of hers (Saso), we always knew that a medal (in the Olympics) is within reach, if not gold,’’ said Floro.

“I can say the same for Bianca. They are both capable of a podium finish for sure,’’ he added. INQ

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