Saso became the first Filipino to win a major golf tournament.
Yuka Saso made history this June 6 when she beat Japan’s Nasa Hataoka in a play-off to win the Women’s US Open. After her accepting the trophy of her win, Saso also earned an LPGA Tour card that comes with a five-year exemption as a major winner. “To all my friends and fans back in the Philippines and Japan: I’m really thankful. I hope I can keep this going,” Saso said after her historic win.
Saso became the youngest winner of the event together with South Korea’s Inbee Park—both of them won the US Women’s Open at 19, years, 11 months and 17 days. Aside from that, Saso became the first Filipino to win one of golf’s major championships. Here are some details you may not know about this rising sports star:
She’s Both Filipino and Japanese
Yuka Saso is a dual citizen of the Philippines and Japan. Saso was born on June 20, 2001 to Filipino and Japanese parents Fritzie and Masazuka in San Ildefonso, Philippines. She dedicated her win to her parents. She said, “I’d like to thank my family. I wouldn’t be here without them.”
She Started Young(er)
Since she couldn’t speak Japanese and didn’t have any friends at the time, her father Masakazu Saso would bring her to the golf course. She spent her time playing and watching golf videos that’s why at age 9 she was sure of what she wanted to be—a professional golfer like four-time men’s major champion Rory Mcllroy.
Her father saw a bright future for his kid in the field of sports so he brought Yuka back to the Philippines to pursue her dream of becoming a professional golf player. Her hard work starts to pay off as she won two gold medals for the country at the 2018 Asian Games, one in the individual event and another in the team event. Eventually, she turn pro in 2019, after earning her Japan LPGA card.
“My dream was to be World No 1 and win a US Women’s Open,” she said. “But I wasn’t thinking that I would really hold this trophy this week.”
She’s a Major Golf Fan
She’s not only earned a trophy, but also the attention of her inspiration. McIlroy expressed his support to Yuka in his Instragram saying, “Great playing the last few days, Yuka Saso. Go finish it out today and get that trophy”. Saso thanked McIlroy, the player who inspired her start in golf, after her win.
“Rory mentioned me on Instagram and said, ‘Get that trophy.’ And I did, so ‘Thank you, Rory,’” she said. McIlroy was not done there, tweeting: “Everyone’s going to be watching Yuka Saso swing videos on YouTube now.”
She Loves K-Pop—and Daniel Padilla
Yuka Saso, just like any other teen her age is a fan of many pop culture icons. According to Yuka, music, movies, and Rory McIlroy are helping her get through these challenging times. She said in her interview that she’s a fan of some K-Pop groups and this one local actor, she says, “I like TWICE, Blackpink, Sam Smith, Daniel Padilla, he looks really good, I like him!”
She Wants More Kids to Play Golf
As an ambassador of the game, Saso also wants golf to become more popular in her country like basketball. She would love to see kids have an easier access to playing golf.
She said, “In the Philippines there’s a lot of young players who want to play golf but they don’t have enough money, they couldn’t afford to play in the tournament so they can’t go. But if we can all support them then maybe they can all go and experience an international tournament.”