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Before they turned pro: Yuka Saso
08 Jun 2021
by Jim Young of AmateurGolf.com

see also: U.S. Women's Open Championship, Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club, Yuka Saso Rankings

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Yuka Saso won the Girl's PGA in 2019 (Darren Carroll/PGA of America photo)
Yuka Saso won the Girl's PGA in 2019 (Darren Carroll/PGA of America photo)

Prior to her historic victory at Sunday at the Olympic Club in San Francisco where she joined Inbee Park as the youngest player ever to win a U.S. Women's Open, Yuka Saso enjoyed a very successful junior and amateur career.

In 2019, she was named a first-team Rolex Junior All-American and her only AJGA win came at the 2018 Thunderbird International Junior, where she posted a 7-under par score of 209 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. She never placed out of the top 10 in any of her AJGA events and had a runner-up finish at the 2018 Rolex Tournament of Champions in West Palm Beach, Fla.

A two-time Philippine Junior Amateur champion (2016-17), Saso made an impression when as a 15-year-old she made it all the way to the semifinals of the 2016 U.S. Women's Amateur at Rolling Green Golf Club in Springfield, Pennsylvania (she went on to make match play in all four of her appearances in the championship). That year, Saso also claimed medalist honors at the 2016 World Junior Girls at Mississaugua (Ontario, Canada) Golf Club, where she helped the Philippines to the team title.

Saso, whose mother is from the Philippines and father from Japan, started playing golf at the age of eight and started rattling off victories just six years later. She claimed titles at the Sabah International Junior Masters, the Visayas Regional Amateur and the ALM Tournament. In addition to her World Junior Girls championship in 2016, Saso also claimed titles at the Philippine Junior Amateur and Philippine Junior Amateur Match Play.

She has also represented her country in international competition, playing in the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires where she tied for second. Saso gave further notice of her tremendous potential when she tied for 17th as a 16-year old in an LET event at the Women’s Victorian Open. She won two medals for her country at the 2018 Asian Games, capturing the individual event and teamed with Bianca Pagdanganan and Lois Kaye Go to win the team title for the Philippines.

In 2019, her final year as an amateur, Saso participated in the inaugural Augusta National Women's Amateur, finishing third, and then qualified for the U.S. Women's Open at the Country Club of Charleston.

Saso turned pro that year after earning her Japan LPGA card and has won two titles on the Japanese Tour. Her win at the Olympic Club came in just her seventh start on the LPGA Tour.

Yuka Saso’s Amateur Wins
2014 Sabah International Junior Masters
2014 Visayas Regional Amateur
2014 ALM Tournament
2015 Kartini Cup
2016 Philippine Junior Amateur
2016 Philippine Junior Amateur Match Play
2016 World Girls Junior
2017 Philippine Amateur
2017 Philippine Amateur Open Match Play
2018 Philippine Ladies Open
2018 Victorian Junior Masters
2018 Thunderbird Invitational Juniors
2018 Asian Games
2019 Philippine Ladies Open
2019 Girl’s Junior PGA Championship

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