SAN FRANCISCO — Yuka Saso modeled her golf sport after Rory McIlroy, spending hours watching movies of his swing earlier than going to mattress every night time with a purpose to good her personal.
All that work paid off and now Saso is a U.S. Open champion similar to her idol due to a clutch playoff putt after a back-nine collapse by Lexi Thompson.
Saso’s 10-foot putt for birdie on the third playoff gap Sunday helped her edge out Nasa Hataoka and change into the second teenager to win the U.S. Ladies’s Open.
Saso overcame back-to-back double bogeys early within the spherical to make the playoff after which turned the primary participant from the Philippines to win a golf main.
“I used to be truly slightly upset,” Saso stated about her poor begin. “However my caddie talked to me and stated, ‘Simply carry on going; there’s many extra holes to go.’ That is what I did.”
Each gamers made pars at Nos. 9 and 18 within the two-hole combination playoff, sending the match to sudden loss of life again on the ninth gap. That set the stage for Saso to win it simply up the street from Daly Metropolis, dubbed “Little Manila” for its massive inhabitants of Filipinos.
There have been many available for the ultimate spherical, together with a number of with Filipino flags for the event.
“I do not know what’s taking place within the Philippines proper now, however I am simply grateful that there is so many individuals within the Philippines cheering for me,” she stated. “I do not know tips on how to thank them. They gave me a lot power. I need to say thanks to everybody.”
Saso matched 2008 winner Inbee Park because the youngest U.S. Ladies’s Open champion at 19 years, 11 months, 17 days.
Instantly after her victory, Saso accepted LPGA Tour membership. The brand new champion earned a five-year exemption. She is the twenty first participant to make the U.S. Ladies’s Open title her first LPGA Tour victory.
Thompson, who had a 5-stroke lead after the eighth gap, performed the ultimate seven holes in 5 over to complete a stroke again.
“I actually did not really feel like I hit any dangerous golf photographs,” she stated. “That is what this golf course can do to you, and that is what I’ve stated all week.”
The one different gamers to complete below par on the Lake Course at Olympic Membership had been Megan Khang and Shanshan Feng, who each had been at 2 below.
Highschool junior Megha Ganne performed within the ultimate group however shot 77 and completed 3 over because the low newbie for the match.
“I will bear in mind this for the remainder of my life,” Ganne stated. “It is every thing I’ve needed since I used to be little, so it is simply the perfect feeling.”
Saso overcame a tough begin to the ultimate spherical with double bogeys on the second and third holes that appeared to knock her out of rivalry, however she managed to regular herself with a birdie at No. 7.
Saso then made back-to-back birdies on the par-5 sixteenth and seventeenth holes to get to 4 below and be a part of Hataoka within the playoff.
Hataoka used a run of three birdies in a four-hole span on the again 9 that put strain on Thompson.
Thompson wilted down the stretch, making this the seventh straight LPGA Tour main captured by a first-time winner.
The primary U.S. Ladies’s Open on the fabled Lake Course on the Olympic Membership ended up like so most of the earlier 5 occasions the boys competed for the nationwide championship right here.
The 54-hole chief did not win any of these 5 U.S. Opens performed by the boys, serving to the Olympic Membership earn the moniker of the “Graveyard of Champions.” Earlier winners Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Payne Stewart, Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell all acquired caught on the ultimate day at Olympic and had been denied their titles.
Thompson had a 5-stroke lead when she walked off the eighth inexperienced, however she squandered all of it on the again 9. She made a double bogey at No. 12, a bogey at 14 after which a bogey 6 on the par-5 seventeenth that was reachable in two photographs primarily based on the tee location.
However Thompson drove into the tough and got here up wanting the inexperienced on her third shot, earlier than two-putting for bogey to fall right into a three-way tie for first when Saso made her second straight birdie to hitch Hataoka at 4 below.
“I did not hit a nasty drive,” Thompson stated. “The wind simply by no means acquired it after which it tried to bounce proper, and I’ve by no means seen a lie that dangerous. That is what this course can do. Simply acquired the wind improper on just a few photographs coming in.”
Her method shot on the par-4 18th ended up within the bunker, after which she missed a 10-foot putt to make the playoff.
That left her winless in 15 tries on the U.S. Ladies’s Open that she first competed in as a 12-year-old in 2007.
Thompson appeared in management when she birdied No. 5 to take a 5-shot lead. She walked the front-nine course with a quiet confidence, breaking into just a few smiles when she heard the “Go Lexi!” cheers from the followers within the galleries who had been a welcome website within the first LPGA match open to the general public because the begin of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However that each one disappeared down the stretch as Thompson was unable so as to add a second main to the one she gained on the ANA Inspiration in 2014. It was one other final-day disappointment to go along with the one which occurred at that very same match in 2017, when she was penalized 4 strokes in the course of the ultimate spherical for misplacing her marked ball the day gone by and misplaced in a playoff.
“It is arduous to smile, but it surely was an incredible week,” Thompson stated. “I performed not so good immediately with just a few of the bogeys coming in on the again 9, however the followers had been unbelievable, listening to the chants, and simply offers me a purpose to play.”