5 things you need to know about the new U.S. Women’s Open champion “Yuka Saso”

In case you’re just watching Saso for the first time this week, here are nine things you need to know about the new U.S. Women’s Open champion.

1: She’s the first major champion from the Philippines

Interestingly, too, San Francisco has one of the largest Filipina populations of any city in the U.S., with Saso attracting an impressive following during her week at Olympic Club.

Pagdanganan wasn’t in the field at Olympic Club but is playing in next week’s LPGA stop in San Francisco and arrived at Olympic Club on Sunday to watch Saso starting on the fifth hole.

“I think it’s not only good for her, but I think it’s good for the Philippines,” Pagdanganan said. “She put us on the radar. What she did was absolutely a great thing, not only for golf but for our country.”

2: She’s the first player to be eligible for full LPGA Tour membership under the newly created “Popov Rule”

Prior to this year, winning a major gave the champion a five-year exemption on the LPGA Tour … provided the winner already was an LPGA member. If she isn’t, as was the case with Sophia Popov when she won the AIG Women’s Open last August, that exemption shrank to only two years. It was a rule that didn’t seem all that fair to some, and came into play again when A Lim Kim won the U.S. Women’s Open last December as a non-member. During the off-season, the LPGA reviewed the rule and changed it to allow members or non-members alike to get the full five years.

Interestingly, Saso was initially non-committal about whether she’d play full time on the LPGA Tour. “I’m going to talk to my dad, my family about it, and we are going to decide after,” Saso said in the immediate aftermath of the playoff win.

Hannah Green, who’s known Saso since their amateur days six or seven years ago, wants her friend to join the LPGA. “She’s fit for major championships,” Green said. “This is probably the toughest golf course we’re ever going to play. Obviously, it’s huge for her confidence. I hope she joins the tour.”

Shortly thereafter, Saso deliberated with her family, as she accepted membership just after 6 P.M. Sunday.

3: She is just the second Filipino to win an LPGA Tour event

The first was Jennifer Rosales, who won the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship in 2004 and then the SBS Open at Turtle Bay in 2005.

4: This was only Saso’s seventh start on the LPGA Tour

Of Saso’s seven, three have come in the U.S. Women’s Open. She missed the cut in 2019 and finished T-13 in 2020.

5: She modeled her swing after Rory McIlroy

During Friday’s broadcast on the Golf Channel, they showed a side-by-side comparison of McIlroy and Saso’s swing, the two looking frighteningly similar. That’s because Saso has spent hours watching McIlroy’s swing on YouTube and mirror her’s after his. After this revelation made it on air, a flattered McIlroy responded that he hoped Saso would play well and win the championship. Saso acknowledge her idol during her post-victory speech.