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22-year-old Yuka Saso Wins the Second U.S. Women’s Open

Yuka Saso paused, looked down, and allowed the surge of emotion to sink in as she stood on the 18th green at Lancaster Country Club late on Sunday, clutching the Harton S. Semple Trophy for the second time in her brief career.

“My family,” she finally stated, speaking through tears, “I wouldn’t be here without their support.” The crowd of spectators gathered around the hole cheered and applauded.

That Saso, 22, could offer her father a similar present three years after giving her mother a U.S. Women’s Open victory, seemed appropriate at the time. “It’s just a wonderful feeling that I was able to give back to my parents in the same way,” Saso stated.

Saso made history in 2021 by becoming the first golfer to win the U.S. Women’s Open from the Philippines, where her mother was from. She chose to exclusively represent her father’s home country of Japan a few months later, even though she was dual citizen of the Philippines and Japan. She has since played under the flag of that nation.

With her victory, Saso will be able to represent Japan in the Olympics later this summer. In 2021, she competed for the Philippines in the Tokyo Games. Saso’s triumph on Sunday was also her first in a competition since she won her maiden U.S. Women’s Open. She began to question whether she would ever win an event again due to the protracted interval between prize presentations.

“I definitely had a little doubt if I can win again,” she stated. “I wasn’t expecting to win the U.S. Women’s Open, so it just makes it special after a long wait.” Like last time, I wasn’t expecting it, and I wasn’t expecting it this time either.That’s probably why it made me feel a little emotional.”
The $12 million purse, the biggest in women’s sports at standalone venues including women’s golf, went to Saso, who took home $2.4 million of it. She became the youngest two-time champion in Open history at the age of 22 years, 347 days.

This time, her victory resulted from an intense push up the scoreboard on the last day. She started three strokes off the lead at 2 under overall. Saso finished the day by himself, shooting a 2-under 68 to win by three strokes. Before the final two groups exited the course, Saso’s victory was virtually assured on an afternoon that saw much of the field collapse.

When Saso holed a par putt on the 18th hole to almost seal the title, she delivered a subdued fist pump with her left arm, hugged caddie Dylan Vallequette, and strode off the course to the cacophonous cries of “Yu! Yu! Yu!” from a few screaming supporters.

“How the other players performed is unknown to me. “I didn’t have my eyes on the scoreboard,” stated Saso. I couldn’t see the scoreboard since I wasn’t feeling really at ease. I simply made an effort to concentrate on my practice and my game.” Saso’s four back-nine birdies helped to offset a double bogey on the sixth hole, which caused her competitors to lose their respective leads.

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