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Saso upbeat as Fujitsu Ladies fires off Friday

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For Yuka Saso, doing good the last round doesn't necessarily mean an equally fine start in another but the Fil-Japanese ace brims with confidence as she launches her drive for a third LPGA of Japan Tour crown in the Fujitsu Ladies 2020 which gets going Friday at the Tokyu Seven Hundred Club in Chiba Prefecture.

The ICTSI-backed ace unleashed a closing 68 to overcome a forgettable opening 75 and salvage a joint 12th place finish in the weather-shortened Stanley Ladies (36 holes) last week, a rally she has opted to tone down coming into the Y100 million Fujitsu Ladies where she is paired with LPGA Tour veteran Momoko Ueda for the second time this year.

“Just because I did good the last time out doesn’t mean it would be the same the next time. That’s golf,” said Saso, who yielded the Player of the Year lead to Sakura Koiwai but stayed on top of the money race with Y66,180,250 in earnings against the latter's Y54,886,142.

“But I’m confident I will rise again,” she added.

The 34-year-old Ueda is also raring to rebound from a string of so-so finishes after placing sixth in the British Women's Open in Scotland, particularly against the two-leg winner Saso, who humbled her the first time they clashed in the Descente Ladies Tokai Classic last August.

Their pairing, which includes Asuka Kashiwabara, is but one of a number of compelling groupings highlighting the opener of the 54-hole championship, which Saso hopes to use as springboard in her attempt to launch some sort of a second surge on the LPGA of Japan Tour after failing to contend in the last five tournaments following back-to-back title romps in NEC Karuizawa and NItori Ladies last August.

But Ueda is also all-set to spark her own version of a fightback following a number of stints marred by struggles coming off that impressive finish in one of LPGA Tour's major championships. She did tie for third in the Japan Open two weeks ago but the two-leg winner last year ended up joint 19th in the Stanley Ladies.

Infront of them of is an equally talent-laden pairing featuring major winners Saki Nagamine and Erika Hara and Descente Tokai Classic champion Ayaka Furue, who, then an amateur, beat Stanley Ladies titlist Mone Inami by two to rule this event last year.

Another threesome worth watching is the 9:40 a.m. group led by Earth Mondahmin Cup victor Ayaka Watanabe, Inami and current Player of the Year frontrunner and Golf5 Ladies champion Sakura Koiwai while multi-titled Ai Suzuki, Lala Anai and Arakaki Hina follow Saso’s group at 10:10 a.m. on No. 1 of the rolling 6659-yard layout.

Ranged against the fancied Ueda in the Tokai Classic, Saso opened with a 68, six better than her rival but groped for a 73 in the second round and wound up eighth in the 54-hole event.

Ueda missed the cut but rebounded strong with a joint third finish in the next event, the Japan Open, where Saso wound up tied for 14th. Jeanne Cortez

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