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Solid start by Yuka

Saso was in a big group in 12th spot.

Yuka Saso found her touch on the greens on her way to three-under-par 68 at the start of the Dana Open Championship at the Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio Thursday.

The 21-year-old Filipino-Japanese needed only 27 putts to complete her round as she tries to redeem herself from another missed cut last week in Canada.

Saso was in a big group in 18th spot, three shots behind co-leaders Hye-Jin Choi, Yin Ruoning and Carlota Ciganda.

She began with bogey and birdie and added two birdies against a bogey in the last four holes at the front to reach the turn on 1-under. She birdied 10 and 18 to get to 3-under.

Meanwhile, Bianca Pagdanganan stumbled with an 80 in her first competitive round in six weeks.

She did not make a single birdie while collecting seven bogeys and a double bogey.

Pagdanganan reached only nine greens in regulation and made 34 putts.

Yin Ruoning fired a six-under par 65 to match Choi Hye-jin Ciganda for the lead.

World number 421 Yin, a 19-year-old rookie, birdied six of the last 10 holes to grab a share of the lead after 18 holes in the 37th edition of the LPGA stop at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio.

“For the last month I spent my time on short game and putting and I think that paid off a little bit,” Yin said.

Yin, coming off a wrist injury, missed the cut in seven of her nine prior LPGA starts this year but delivered her best tour round by three strokes to join the leaders.

“I just want to play my best out there,” Yin said. “I just want to enjoy it.”

Making only her 12h LPGA start, Yin began with a birdie and answered her lone bogey at eight with three birdies in a row starting at the ninth.

Yin birdied the par-3 14th and par-4 16th before a closing birdie at the par-5 18th.

“The bogey was kind of motivation for me,” Yin said. “I set a goal before the round — just don’t be afraid — and I was so mad after that I tried to make some birdies.”

Choi birdied three of the first four holes and added another at the par-3 eighth. She began the back nine with a birdie and sank another at 13 then parred her way to the clubhouse in a bogey-free round.

World number 18 Choi, also a rookie chasing her first LPGA victory, was third at this year’s US Women’s Open and shared fifth at the Women’s PGA Championship.

Choi shared second at last week’s Canadian Open, her ninth top-10 showing of the season.

Ciganda also birdied 18 to finish on 65, the 32-year-old from Pamplona firing a bogey-free round.

“I started very solid,” Ciganda said. “Then I just told myself to keep giving chances, hit greens. It’s key on this golf course.”

“I feel very comfortable out there. I really enjoy playing here and it has been a great day.”

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