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Yuka Saso hopes to see more kids taking up golf: ‘We need a lot of juniors’

MANILA, Philippines–Yuka Saso, the Filipino-Japanese teenage golfer who made history—and plenty of money—in the US Open on Monday has one simple wish for the sport.

“I hope there are so many more kids—younger [people]—who play golf. I think that’s what we need,” she said in a virtual chat with members of the Philippine media.

Saso, 19, etched her name in the sport’s lore, edging veteran Nasa Hataoka in the third playoff to become the first Filipino and the youngest player with South Korea’s Inbee Park to win the major.

She rebounded from back-to-back double bogeys to make the playoff and eventually bag a prize of $1 million (around P47.5 million) and an assortment of tournament exemptions in the coming years.

“We need a lot of juniors,” the Asian Games double gold winner stressed.

LPGA: U.S. Women's Open - Final Round Yuka Saso

Jun 6, 2021; San Francisco, California, USA; Yuka Saso hoists the US Open trophy after winning in a sudden death playoff over Nasa Hataoka following the final round of the U.S. Women’s Open golf tournament at The Olympic Club.  Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

But Saso is also aware of just how niche the sport is in the Philippines. So within her message for the ones she may have inspired is a word of caution.

“I think you can’t just want to play golf just because I won or something,” she said. “They need to love the sport. I want them to like the sport,” she said.

And it’s not hard to understand why. It is Saso’s love for the game—one she shares ardently with her biggest influence, her father Masazuka—that has pulled her through since picking up the sport at the age of eight.

“I’m not going to say that we’ve been through a lot,” she said. “I think we’re having fun with the game of golf. I wouldn’t.”

“We love the game of golf,” she went on. “And I’m really happy with what I’m doing.”

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