By Ivan Stewart Saldajeno
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) – Yuka Saso became the first Filipino ever to win a major golf event after taking home the LPGA US Women’s Open championship.
Saso prevailed over Japan’s Nasa Hataoka in the sudden death playoff on Monday (Philippine Time) at the Olympic Club Lake Course in San Francisco to take home the US$1,000,000 (around PHP47.6 million) championship prize.
It was a Cinderella finish for Saso, who led after the second round on Saturday (Philippine Time), as she double-bogeyed in Holes 2 and 3 and was down by two strokes entering Hole 17 in the final round.
But with Round 3 leader Lexi Thompson failing to close it out in regulation after an error-prone back nine, Saso, who birdied the last two holes, found herself in a rubber match with Hataoka, who flashed brilliance in Round 4 with a four under par 68 in the day.
Both Saso and Hataoka settled for pars in the two-hole aggregate playoff, setting up the sudden death round.
Saso struggled in her first shot as the ball landed at the rough but recovered in the second shot after sending it just eight feet shy of the hole.
Hataoka, on the other hand, came up way short in her second shot and landed the ball farther from the hole at 30 feet.
Hataoka settled for the par after her birdie putt came three feet short, but Saso slotted her birdie in to beat Hataoka for the title.
At 19 years, 11 months, and 17 days old, Saso also became the youngest to win the US Women’s Open since Park In-Bee, also 19 years, 11 months, and 17 days old then, won it all in 2008. (PNA)