A short moment of silence occurred before 19-year-old Yuka Sayo shot the birdie that would change her life and make history. A pro player since 2020, the young Filipino-Japanese athlete triumphed in the US Women’s Champion after suffering from two early double bogeys.
She eventually beat Japan’s Nasa Hataoka in three playoff holes. The win has earned her a membership at the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) and will undoubtedly skyrocket her path to the Olympics.
Aside from being the first Filipina to nab the major title, the Filipino-Japanese golfer matches the record with South Korean golfer Park In-bee as the youngest US Open winner. Here's what you need to know about the 19-year old to watch out for.
She was born in San Ildefonso, Bulacan
Yuka is a dual citizen with a Filipino mother and a Japanese father. She and her family moved to Japan when she was four years old, and she can speak fluent Filipino and Japanese.
View this post on Instagram
She’s been recognized by her long-time golfing idol, Rory McIlroy
Before her major win, legendary golfer and four-time major championship winner Rory Mcllroy gave his virtual nod through Instagram.
"Great playing the last few days @yukasaso_official. Go finish it out today and get that [trophy emoji]," Mcllroy wrote on Instagram Stories with a shared photo of her swing.
True enough, Yuka did nab the trophy and gave her thanks to the famed golfer whom she regularly watches online to study his swing.
“Rory said, ‘get that trophy,’ and I did. So thank you, Rory,” she said with a laugh during a press conference after her winning shot.
Everyone’s going to be watching Yuka Saso swing videos on YouTube now. Congratulations! ? https://t.co/oyKoFHgjz1— Rory McIlroy (@McIlroyRory) June 7, 2021
Her Filipino roots are very much alive
Meanwhile, Yuka also spoke about the Filipinos' unwavering support during her LPGA run during the said press conference.
“I don’t know what’s happening in the Philippines right now but I’m just thankful that there’s so many in the Philippines cheering for me. I don’t know how to thank them, they gave me so much energy. I wanna say thank you to everyone.”
She also spoke of the Philippine flags that donned the green, as the event occurred in San Francisco's The Olympic Club near Daly City, a Filipino-populated town that’s been called 'Little Manila.'
“It felt great, there’s so many people holding out Philippine flags and it’s really big, it made me really happy,”
When asked by ABS-CBN's TJ Manotoc about her feeling when she saw the sea of flags, she also replied in full Filipino.
“Sobrang laki ng pasasalamat ko sa kanilang lahat sa pagpunta po dito. Alam ko po na hindi madali kumuha ng tickets, madaming tao, kailangan po nila makipagsiksikan. Maraming salamat po at dami niyo po kasing energy," she shared.
View this post on Instagram
Despite the historic win, the 19-year has a humility that’s evident in the game, as people noted how she continued to cheer for her rivals during the competition.
“I just don’t want to be selfish. Everyone here is a great player. If it’s their time, it’s their time; if it’s my time, it’s my time. I just wanna cheer [for] everybody.”
Watch the rest of her post-game interview here:
Photo from LPGA / Getty Images