Yuka Saso wins second US Women's Open golf crown

golf02 June 2024 22:42| © AFP
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Yuka Saso © Gallo Images

Japan's Yuka Saso powered away on the back nine to win her second US Women's Open title Sunday, carding a two-under-par 68 for a three-shot victory at Lancaster Country Club in Pennsylvania.

Saso finished with a four-under-par total of 276 to claim her second LPGA tour title three years after winning the US Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco – when she represented the Philippines.

"It feels great," said Saso, whose mother is from the Philippines and father from Japan.

"Winning in 2021 I represented the Philippines, I feel like I was able to give back to my mom. This year I was able to represent Japan, and I think I was able to give back to my dad.

"It's just a wonderful feeling that I was able to give back to my parents in the same way."

Saso became just the third player, after South Koreans Pak Se-ri and Chun In-gee, to make her first two LPGA wins major titles, and at 22 she's the youngest player to win the US Women's Open twice.

To do it, Saso shook off a four-putt double-bogey at the par-three sixth, grabbing birdies at four holes in a five-hole stretch from the 12th through the 16th to pull away as a trio of overnight co-leaders headlined by Australia's Minjee Lee faded.

"I just tried to be patient out there," Saso said. "I think that's what you need to win a major like this – just have fun playing with the playing partners and enjoy the challenge."

Japan's Hinako Shibuno, who won the 2019 Women's British Open in her major championship debut, carded a two-over-par 72 to finish second on one-under 279.

Shibuno was a stroke clear of overnight co-leader Andrea Lee of the United States and American Ally Ewing. Ewing climbed the leaderboard with a four-under 66 while Lee carded a five-over 75.

Third-round co-leader Wichanee Meechai of Thailand shot a 77 to finish in a group on 282 while two-time major winner Minjee Lee endured a nightmare round of 78 to fall into a group on 283.

Australia's Lee still had a two-shot lead at the turn, despite failing to find a fairway on the front nine.

But as her mistakes mounted, Saso found her groove, drilling a 10-foot birdie putt at the 12th and taking the solo lead with a birdie at the par-five 13th.

She added another pair of birdies at 15 and 16, driving the green at the short par-four 16th.


She was still in the driver's seat after a three-putt bogey at 17 and she delivered a superb chip from in front of the green for a two-putt par at the 18th that sealed it.

"I chipped from the front yesterday, too, and I left it more than 10 feet, and I just told myself, be aggressive and not to be short 10 feet," Saso said. "I'm glad that I was able to do it."

It was an emotional win for Saso, who fought back tears as she thanked her family at the trophy presentation.

"Winning just makes you look back on all the things that your family and your team and my sponsors – they supported me throughout good or bad," she said.

Andrea Lee was the last player with a chance to catch Saso, but she closed with back-to-back bogeys.

"I really grinded out there," the American said. "I tried to come back, but it was tough. I just didn't have my best today."

Minjee Lee, who claimed major titles at the 2021 Evian Championship and the 2022 US Open, opened an 11-foot birdie at the first, but that was the last bright spot of her day.

The Australian hit her first fairway at the 10th, but three-putted for a bogey to find herself tied for the lead as Saso birdied 12.

Things got worse at 12, where she was in the water on the way to a double-bogey that dropped her two adrift.

"I started good," the Aussie said. "Felt like I hit it pretty good, just missed a couple putts for birdie early and then I kind of blew up from there."


LEADING FINAL-ROUND (USA unless noted, a-denotes amateur, par-70):

276 - Yuka Saso (JPN) 68-71-69-68

279 - Hinako Shibuno (JPN) 71-70-66-72

280 - Ally Ewing 74-72-68-66, Andrea Lee 69-69-67-75

281 - Arpichaya Yubol (THA) 72-72-68-69

282 - Ayaka Furue (JPN) 71-72-71-68, Atthaya Thitikul (THA) 74-72-68-68, Wichanee Meechai 69-67-69-77

283 - Rio Takeda (JPN) 74-69-69-71, Sakura Koiwai (JPN) 72-69-70-72, Minjee Lee (AUS) 70-69-66-78

284 - Kim Hyo-joo (KOR) 75-73-67-69, Miyu Yamashita (JPN) 72-71-70-71, Yin Ruoning (CHN) 73-71-69-71, Im Jin-hee (KOR) 73-68-70-73

285 - Hannah Green (AUS) 76-71-72-66, Kim A-lim 74-71-70-70, Lee Mi-hyang (KOR) 74-67-71-73

286 - Liu Yan (CHN) 73-74-72-67, Charley Hull (ENG) 75-72-72-67, Jenny Shin (KOR) 70-78-71-67, Carlota Ciganda (ESP) 72-73-72-69, Chisato Iwai (JPN) 70-71-73-72