Filipino Japanese teenager and Japan LPGA Tour player Yuka Saso won the U.S. Women’s Open on June 6, beating Nasa Hataoka in a three-hole playoff after the pair finished the final round tied for the lead at 4-under.
A dual citizen with a Filipino mother and Japanese father, Saso tied Inbee Park as the youngest champion at the tournament, winning at exactly the same age — 19 years, 11 months, 17 days — as the South Korean was when she won in 2008.
Only two other women with Japanese citizenship have won majors before Saso — Hisako Higuchi at the 1977 LPGA Championship and Hinako Shibuno at the 2019 Women’s British Open.
After finishing the final round at San Francisco’s Olympic Club one stroke ahead of the overnight leader, American Lexi Thompson, Saso and Hataoka remained deadlocked through two playoff holes, which they both parred.
A nicely played wedge shot from the rough gave Saso a birdie putt for the tournament on the third playoff hole. She sunk it to become the first men’s or women’s major winner from the Philippines, the country she represents in competition.
“I was just glad and thankful that I was here and able to play in this tournament,” said Saso, who overcame back-to-back double bogeys early in the final round to make the playoff. “I’d like to thank my family. I wouldn’t be here without them.”
Saso is expected to play for the Philippines at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics. (Kyodo)