Yuka Saso beat Nasa Hataoka with a birdie on the third hole of overtime to claim the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open championship.
Saso, a 19-year-old native of the Philippines, posted a final-round 73, highlighted by birdies on two of her final three holes to catch Hataoka and pass a struggling Lexi Thompson, who held a five-stroke lead at the turn but closed in 41, bogeying the final hole to drop into solo third.
“I don’t know what’s happening in the Philippines right now, but I’m just thankful that there’s so many people in the Philippines cheering for me,” said Saso, who becomes the first major champion, male or female, from the Philippines.
“I don’t know how to thank them. They gave me so much energy. I want to say thank you to everyone.”
Saso started the day just one shot off Thompson’s lead but after back-to-back double bogeys on Nos. 2 and 3, she dropped several shots off the pace. In fact, with just eight holes to play she was six shots back.
“I was actually a little upset,” she said. “But my caddie talked to me and said, just keep on going; there’s many more holes to go. That’s what I did.”
Saso got back into contention with back to back birdies on 16 and 17, but her comeback was mostly due to Thompson’s back-nine collapse. The American star finished her final eight holes at 5-over par, including bogeys on 17 and 18, and was still only one shot off the pace.
The win earned Saso $1 million, along with immediate membership onto the LPGA Tour and a five-year exemption.
2021 U.S. Women’s Open
Final Top-10 Leaders
Pos-Player-To Par (Rd 4)
1. Yuka Saso -4 (+1)
2. Nasa Hataoka -4 (-4)
3. Lexi Thompson -3 (+3)
4. Megan Khang -2 (-2)
4. Shanshan Feng -2 (-1)
6. Angel Yin E (-1)
7. Xiyu Lin +1 (-4)
7. Jin Young Ko +1 (-2)
7. Brooke M. Henderson +1 (-1)
7. Ariya Jutanugarn +1 (-1)
7. Inbee Park +1 (E)
Material from the LPGA Tour Communications was used to compile this report.