Yuka Saso dominates Lancaster’s back 9 to win U.S. Women’s Open, make incredible history

Yuka Saso’s hopes of winning a second U.S. Women’s Open almost evaporated on the 6th green on Sunday. She four-putted for a double bogey, which frazzled her and dropped her back to 1-under for the championship.

“That hole is very difficult. The pin position that they had was very difficult,” Saso said of the 6th.

“I learned so much about that hole. I’ll try not to do that again.”

Luckily for her, she did not four-putt again. Instead, Saso became the youngest two-time major champion in history, thanks to four birdies she made on the back nine—a stretch that Brandel Chamblee of NBC Sports called, “one of the most impressive performances he has ever seen at a U.S. Open.”

The first par-breaker came at the now infamous par-3 12th hole. Of course, Nelly Korda made a shocking 10 early Thursday, ending her hopes for a second major title.

Whereas Saso, at 22 years old, looked like the best player in the world late on Sunday. After her mistake at the 6th, she steadied herself with five straight pars between the seventh and 11th holes—a stretch that includes some of Lancaster Country Club’s most challenging holes.

Yuka Saso, U.S. Women’s Open

Yuka Saso acknowledges the crowd on the 18th green after winning the 2024 U.S. Women’s Open.
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Then came her barrage of birdies. Saso stuck her tee shot at 12 to 10 feet, and calmly rolled in the putt to get back to 2-under. She made so many big putts all week, and this one at 12, which has one of the toughest greens on the course, gave her a massive dose of momentum.

Saso wound up leading the field in strokes gained putting, as her putter—outside of the 6th hole—was her best friend all week.

Another birdie at the par-5 13th followed, which put her in a tie for the lead with five holes to play.

Saso then made one of the more impressive birdies of the day at the par-4 15th, a 453-yard dogleg right. She hit her approach from 190 yards to five feet to get to 4-under. Another birdie at the drivable par-4 16th followed.

Suddenly, Saso sat at 5-under with a firm grasp of the championship. Within minutes, this U.S. Women’s Open went from being up for grabs to Saso’s show.

“I just tried to be very patient out there,” Saso said afterward.

“I think that’s what you need to do to win a major like this. Just have fun playing with the playing partners and enjoy the challenge.”

She dropped a shot at the par-3 17th, which gave her a two-shot lead going into the final hole, but it was all over by then.

Saso sealed her victory with a par on 18, which sealed a 2-under 68—her third under-par round of the week. Considering only two players finished in red figures for the championship, Saso put forth an awe-inspiring performance.

Remarkably, Saso joins In Gee Chun, who won at Lancaster in 2015, and Se Ri Pak as the only two players to win major championships of their first two LPGA victories.

Yuka Saso, U.S. Women’s Open

Yuka Saso greets the fans as she walks off the 18th green.
Chris Keane/USGA

But if you recall 2021, when Saso won the U.S. Women’s Open at The Olympic Club, she donned the Filipino flag. Now, she represents Japan.

“I feel like I was able to give back to my mom,” Saso said when discussing her win three years ago.

“This year, I was able to represent Japan, and I think I was able to give back to my dad. I’m very happy that I was able to do it. It’s just a wonderful feeling that I was able to give back to my parents in the same way.”

Saso’s mother is from the Philippines, while her father is Japanese. She is a citizen of both countries, but starting in 2022, she decided to don the Japanese flag to keep her dual citizenship intact.

Regardless, her win in Central Pennsylvania will be felt across Asia, as Saso became the first player to win the U.S. Women’s Open under two different flags. Her win also makes her the first Japanese player to win the biggest tournament in women’s golf. But the country of Japan shined as a whole in this tournament, as six players from Japan finished in the top 12.

Yet, nobody played better than Saso, who conquered Lancaster’s difficult back nine to lift the Harton S. Semple trophy once again.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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