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Yuka Saso | U.S. Women’s Open

By The Associated Press

LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) — Yuka Saso became a U.S. Women’s Open champion for the second time Sunday and took her place in history with a rare footnote — the first Filipina to win the Women’s Open in 2021, and now the first from Japan to win women’s golf’ biggest event.

No matter the flag, the 22-year-old Saso delivered a masterful performance at Lancaster Country Club with a 2-under 68. She ran off four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the back nine amid a series of collapses and won without much drama.

Saso got up-and-down for par from short of the 18th green to finish at 4-under 276, winning by three shots over Hinako Shibuno, who in 2019 became the first Japanese player to capture the Women’s British Open.

They were the only two players under par, the fewest for the Women’s Open in 10 years. Saso’s only other LPGA Tour victory was the Women’s Open at Olympic Club in 2021. She also has two titles on the Japan LPGA.

Andrea Lee, part of a three-way tie for the lead at the start of this wild day, was the last player who had a chance to catch Saso. But the Stanford alum, a former No. 1 amateur, badly missed her tee shot on the easy 16th and had to settle for par, then took bogey on the 17th. Lee took one last bogey on the 18th for a 75 to tie for third with Ally Ewing (66).

Saso has said she wishes she could play for two flags — her mother is from the Philippines, her father from Japan. She decided to switch citizenship before turning 21, and Saso wound up leading a strong showing by Japan — five players among the top 10.

Saso won $2.4 million from the $12 million purse, the largest in women’s golf and in women’s sports at a standalone venue. The victory also put Saso in position to return to the Olympics — she played for the Philippines in 2021 in the Tokyo Games.

Check out “Watts” in Yuka Saso’s bag below.

Driver: Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Triple Diamond, 9 degrees

3-wood: Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Max, 16.5 degrees

Utility: Callaway Apex UW, 18 degrees

Irons (4-5): Callaway Apex CB; (6-9): Callaway Apex MB 21

Wedges: Callaway Jaws Raw (46, 52, 56, 60 degrees)

Putter: Odyssey Ai One Milled 3T

Ball: Callaway Chrome Tour X