Hilo youngster Leo Saito moved within striking distance at the junior world golf championships in San Diego, firing one of Wednesday’s lowest rounds in the 9-10 division.
Saito buried four birdies during an eight-hole stretch for a 2-under 70 that left him at 145 heading to the final round. Saito was tied for ninth in the 77-player field, only five shots behind the co-leaders, who both fired 67s Wednesday. For the second consecutive round, Saito kept double-bogeys off his scorecard. He was 1-under after 10 holes Tuesday before four bogeys left him with a 75.
Saito and Kailua-Kona’s Blake Nakagawa, also in 9-10, were the only Big Islanders to qualify for junior worlds in June at Oahu’s Pearl Country Club. Nakagawa – who has qualified again for the upcoming U.S. Kids Golf World Championship – finished with a second consecutive 83 on Wednesday and was tied for 55th.
Uchida out at Girls’ Junior
Waiakea alum Lacey Uchida faltered on the back nine in match play at the U.S. Girls’ Junior, losing four of the last five holes to fall in the round of 64 in Chevy Chase, Md.
Uchida led by two holes heading to No. 14, but she bogeyed the next two par-4 holes, tying the match. Uchida hadn’t trailed since the first hole, but she fell behind again after she couldn’t take advantage of Kennedy Swedick’s double-bogey, carding a 6 on the par-3 No. 16. Each golfer made par on 17, and Swedick won 2-up with a birdie on 18.
Uchida qualified for match play as the 39th seed at 8-over after a 75 and a 73.