After taking the 36-hole lead at the LOTTE Championship, Yuka Saso was asked what it meant to be playing in the final group alongside 15-time Tour winner Lydia Ko. “She's a very good player, and, yeah, I look up to her,” said the 19-year-old Saso.
The two can relate – Ko burst onto the scene as a young amateur, just as Saso did in the Philippines. In 2012, Ko became the youngest to ever win an LPGA Tour event at the CP Women’s Open, then turned professional in 2014. Saso only turned professional in November of 2019, earning her JLPGA card for 2020, and has since earned two victories over in Japan. After finishing four strokes back of Ko at -17, Saso said she learned a lot playing alongside the two-time major champion.
“You know, talking with world No. 1 makes you so relaxed. You know, when she said like she remembers like when we played in U.S. Women's Open practice round I really felt happy. Who would think she would remember, right?” said Saso. “So, yeah, playing with her -- I mean, I didn't play well the first couple holes, but, you know, she is very kind. Yeah, it's nice playing with her today.”
Ko picked up a few pointers from watching Saso play as well. “She's been super impressive just to play alongside. I remember playing with her for the first time a couple years ago during a practice round and thought, Wow, this girl is so impressive and she has things that I don't have in my game,” said Ko. “So it was really cool to at times feel like I was on the sidelines watching. Yeah, she's been playing amazing over in Japan, and I'm sure she's doing her country so proud. Hopefully it's something that we'll see more often on tour, and I'm 100% sure her name is going to pop up on many leaderboards.”