Luisa Morales (Philstar.com) – August 6, 2021 – 1:30pm

MANILA, Philippines — Yuka Saso finally got her groove going in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, recovering in the third round of women’s individual stroke play at the Kasumigaseki Country Club on Friday.

Brushing off her first round struggles, Saso sizzled with a 4-under par performance to leap into the 20th spot where she’s tied with four other golfers.

TRACKER: Team Philippines at the Tokyo Olympics

While still 11 strokes behind leader Nelly Korda of the USA, Saso puts herself within striking distance of the podium where four golfers are tied with -10 par totals through three rounds.

Pressed for time under the Japan heat, organizers had Saso and other golfers start the third round with the back nine first — this is where Saso had three birdies, though she started with a bogey in Hole 10.

She then followed this up with two more birdies in the front nine to finish the day at 67.

Meanwhile, the Philippines’ other golfer Bianca Pagdanganan continued her slide in the leaderboard after going down two places to joint 29th where she’s tied with four others.

Two birdies in the front line made Pagdanganan look good at the start of the round, but all momentum was lost when she had two double-bogeys and one bogey in the second half of the course.

A birdie in Hole 18 salvaged a par run for Pagdanganan in the penultimate round and maintains her -2 total.

Both Saso and Pagdanganan will seek to end their campaigns on a high note — and maybe win a medal to add to the Philippines’ haul — when Round 4 tees off at an earlier time, 6:30 a.m. in Japan, on Saturday.