As made famous by the Philadelphia 76ers in their rebuild, Yuka Saso is truly “trusting the process” at the U.S. Women’s Open. The 19-year-old, who hails from the Philippines, started Saturday with the 36-hole lead and teed off in the final grouping alongside 2019 champion Jeongeun Lee6. Saso opened with a birdie on the first hole but battled through the rest of the round to record a 71 to sit one stroke off Lexi Thompson’s lead at -6 in solo second.
“I think I started good. Started with a birdie followed with a bogey,” said Saso, who ultimately carded three more birdies and bogeys in her final 12 holes. “But I think I holed some good putts, just a little disappointing that I misread two putts, but I think it's a great day.”
Saso has been a whiz with a putter in her hands at The Olympic Club, making 14 birdies on the week, just one less than Lucy Li through 54 holes. Saso is second in average putts per hole (1.5) with 81 putts throughout the first three days. She’s first in the field with putts between five and 10 feet at 85.71%, and Saso said she’ll look to build upon those positives heading into Sunday.
With a win, Saso would be the fourth player in the last three consecutive years to win a major title as a non-Member, following A Lim Kim (2020 U.S. Women’s Open), Sophia Popov (2020 AIG Women’s Open) and Hinako Shibuno (2019 AIG Women’s Open), but said she knows not to let any major pressure get to her.
“I think I've learned so much last year and this year. I played in so many good tournaments and I've been having a great chance playing with the great players, seeing them play, being so patient, trusting on what they do,” said Saso. “I think I've learned from that, so I think I'm just going to stay patient and trust the process.”