A nightmare start, a fairytale ending. Yuka Saso is the new queen of the US Women's Open. In San Francisco, California, she overtook Japan's Nasa Hataoka on the third play-off hole to establish herself as the first Filipino player to win a golf major.
No one (even on a male level) had ever succeeded before her. Records over records for Saso who at the age of 19, 11 months and 17 days equaled the record of South Korea's Inbee Park as the youngest all-time champion of the tournament.
For the San Ildefonso champion it is the first career success on the LPGA Tour. Before her only another Filipino player, Jennifer Rosales, had managed to establish herself (twice, the first at the Charity Championship in 2004 and the second at the SBS Open in 2005) on the highest American green circuit in pink.
Yuka Saso, statements
It is a historical exploit that of Saso, 21st golfer to win the US Women's for the first time and the fourth in the last three years (after A Lim Kim, Sophia Popov and Hinako Shibuno) to prevail in a Grand Slam event as a non-member of the LPGA Tour.
With this success Saso becomes part of the great LPGA circus, accepting immediate registration on the tour (a rule changed this year in order not to repeat what happened in the past). What made the difference, at the OIympic Club (Lake Course, par 71), theater of the Ryder Cup 2033, was a birdie made from 12 feet (almost 4 meters) by Saso who, with a total of 280 (-4), he closed the 72 regulation holes like Hataoka thanks to two feats (birdie) at the 16th and 17th of the fourth and last round.
Started as bad as it could be by the Filipino player, tripped over two double bogeys at 2 and 3. But when everything seemed lost, the reaction came. Birdie at 7, eagle at 11, before two spells in the final that brought the contest to the playoff.
For a victory also thanks to the collapse of the American Lexi Thompson (leader after the moving day) who, after an excellent start, ruined everything with a double bogey at 11 and three bogeys (at 14, 17 and 18). For her 3 / o place with 281 (-3) and great regrets.
Top 10 and 7 / a square with 285 (+1) for Jin Young Ko (world number 1) and Inbee Park (second in the world ranking), winner of the US Women's in 2008 and 2013. For Saso also a check for $ 1,000,000 against a total prize pool of 5,500,000.
Celebrated in California by many supporters, she is already a star in the Philippines. In the Southeast Asian country, fans went crazy with joy for her historic triumph. Alena Sharp is a 16-year LPGA Tour veteran and Olympic athlete from Canada.
He wrote an article for the LPGA web site. "I’ve been married to my wife Sarah Bowman, who is also my caddie, since November of 2020 and our union is more accepted now than at any point in history. People view us now as married people.
We’re the couple, just like any other. That’s a big jump from just a few years ago and lightyears from where society was when I was a kid. I’m 40 now and have been on the LPGA Tour for 16 years. When I was a rookie, my friends and family knew that I was gay.
But it wasn’t something that I publicized. I didn’t want to alienate any potential sponsors and didn’t want to put any of my existing sponsors in an awkward spot. I wasn’t closeted. I just lived my life quietly, keeping my orientation out of the public eye.
Even that was better than the way society viewed us when I was young. I noticed when I was 15 years old that I was finding women more attractive than men. I tried not to think about it, but it was always there. My last year of junior golf, when I was 17, I realized it more.
It’s hard because you’re a kid and having feelings that you don’t understand. But who can you tell? I was raised Catholic where the teachings were clear: is a sin. My grandparents and parents went to Mass and followed the precepts of their faith, so I couldn’t talk to them.
I already knew what the priests would say. And this isn’t exactly a conversation that you have with teenaged friends. Then when I went to college. I was really confused because I was dating men and afraid to date a woman.
I knew I wanted to; I knew by then that I was strongly attracted to women, but at that time there was an inherent fear. A fear of rejection; a fear of discrimination; a fear of being shut out and closed off from the relationships that mattered most to me at the time.
And there was, at times, a palpable fear of physical harm. There were still parts of the United States and Canada where you could be assaulted because of your orientation. So, in addition to all the other things a college freshman goes through, I battled all those questions, feeling, and fears"