US Women’s Open: Yuka Saso play-off victory creates creates history

Courtesy: BBC Sports. Saso was supported by a large section of Filipino locals

Teenager Yuka Saso became the first Filipino player to win a major with victory in the US Women’s Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.

Saso, 19, beat Japan’s Nasa Hataoka on the third hole of a sudden death play-off after they tied on four under par.

American Lexi Thompson missed a putt on the 18th to get into the play-off.

Saso, who recovered from two double bogeys in her first three holes, said: “My caddie said there are still many holes to go and to trust the process.”

At 19 years, 11 months and 17 days, Saso matched South Korea’s Inbee Park to the day as the youngest champion at the women’s game’s oldest major.

Saso, who shot a two-over 73 in the final round, had to survive a late charge by Hataoka, 22, who was seeking to become the latest Japanese major champion after Hideki Matsuyama triumphed at the Masters earlier this year.

After starting the day six strokes off the lead, Hataoka stormed through with three birdies in her last six holes to post a 68 but could only manage pars on the three play-off holes and was forced to watch on as Saso sank the winning 10-foot birdie putt.

Thompson had led by four strokes after her first nine holes but suffered a dramatic collapse on the back nine.

The 26-year-old started to struggle with her accuracy off the tee on the back nine and missed a crucial par putt on 17 as well as one on 18 that would have seen her into the play-off.

England’s Mel Reid, who led after the first round, carded a second successive 78 to finish in a tie for 46th on 12 over.

Saso, who earlier in the tournament revealed she has tried to emulate four-time men’s major champion Rory McIlroy’s swing, admitted she had received encouragement from the Northern Irishman on social media on Sunday.