Yuka Saso likes to hit birdies — especially in the clutch.
En route to becoming one of the youngest U.S. Open champions ever, the 19-year-old birdied two of her last three holes to card a final-round 73 and catch Nasa Hataoka, forcing a playoff.
Then, on the third playoff hole, Saso birdied again, this time for the win.
19-YEAR-OLD MAJOR CHAMPION!Yuka Saso ties Inbee Park as the youngest #USWomensOpen champion in history. pic.twitter.com/Ay1dzEH3S5— U.S. Women's Open (USGA) (@uswomensopen) June 6, 2021
19-YEAR-OLD MAJOR CHAMPION!Yuka Saso ties Inbee Park as the youngest #USWomensOpen champion in history. pic.twitter.com/Ay1dzEH3S5
With the win, Saso is now tied with Inbee Park as the youngest champion in U.S. Open history — both were 19 years, 11 months and 17 days old.
Despite the comeback, Saso’s day didn’t start out the best, opening with double bogeys at two and three to drop several shots back of then-leader Lexi Thompson.
“I was actually a little upset,” Saso said about her poor start. “But my caddie talked to me and said, ‘Just keep on going; there’s many more holes to go.’ That’s what I did.”
Saso kept her patience, watching and listening as Thompson dropped six shots on the back nine, including on the final hole to drop into third place. From there, Saso and Hataoka battled it out in the playoff to determine the winner.
It’s Saso’s first LPGA career victory, earning her immediate LPGA tour membership with a five-year exemption. She’s also the first major winner, male or female, from the Philippines.