Yuka Saso birdied the third playoff hole to beat Nasa Hataoka on Sunday and become the second teenager to win the US Women’s Open after Lexi Thompson collapsed down the stretch.
Saso overcame back-to-back double bogeys early in the round to make the playoff. She then won it with a 10ft putt on the ninth hole to become the first player from the Philippines to win a golf major. Saso matched 2008 winner Inbee Park as the youngest US Women’s Open champion at 19 years, 11 months and 17 days.
Both players made pars at Nos 9 and 18 in the two-hole aggregate playoff, sending the tournament to sudden death back at the ninth hole. That set the stage for Saso to win it just up the road from Daly City, dubbed the Pinoy Capital of the United States for its large population of Filipinos.
“My dream was to be world No 1 and win the US Open, but I wasn’t thinking I would hold this trophy this week,” she said. “I am really happy. I knew there were par fives on the last few holes and maybe I could get my chance. After 18, I felt my stomach a little … it hurts … I don’t know why. But I ate a banana and it feels better now. This means a lot.”
Thompson, who had a five-stroke lead after the eighth hole, played the final seven holes in five-over to finish a stroke back. “I really didn’t feel like I hit any bad golf shots,” she said. “That’s what this golf course can do to you, and that’s what I’ve said all week.”
High school junior Megha Ganne played in the final group but shot 77 and finished three-over as the low amateur for the tournament. “I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life,” Ganne said. “It’s everything I’ve wanted since I was little, so it’s just the best feeling.”
Saso overcame a rough start to the final round with double bogeys on the second and third holes that seemed to knock her out of contention but she managed to steady herself with a birdie at No 7. Saso then made back-to-back birdies on the par-five 16th and 17th holes to get to four-under and join Hataoka in the playoff. Hataoka used a run of three birdies in a four-hole span on the back nine that put pressure on Thompson.
Thompson wilted down the stretch, making this the seventh straight LPGA Tour major won by a first-time winner.
Thompson had a five-stroke lead when she walked off the eighth green but she squandered it all on the back nine. She made a double bogey at No 12, a bogey at 14 and then a bogey six on the 17th that was reachable in two shots based on the tee location.
“It’s hard to smile, but it was an amazing week,” Thompson said. “I played not so good today with a few of the bogeys coming in on the back nine, but the fans were unbelievable, hearing the chants and just gives me a reason to play.”