Yuka Saso Aims for All Majors and 2024 Paris Olympics Participation

MANILA: Filipino-born Japanese golfer Yuka Saso reflected on her 2023 season, expressing gratitude for her health and accomplishments. With eight top-10 finishes in 22 LPGA Tour tournaments, Saso ended the year with a strong performance, including a 23rd-place tie in the CME Group Tour Championship in November. She concluded the season ranked 17th in the Race to CME Globe Season points competition. "I think that's the most important thing (to stay healthy)," stated the 22-year-old US Women's Open champion, who represented the Philippines, during a Sunday interview.

According to Philippines News Agency, her standout achievement in 2023 was finishing as runner-up in the KPMG Women's PGA Championship in Springfield, New Jersey, in July. She narrowly missed the championship by one stroke to Ruoning Yin of China but earned a substantial USD875,130 (approximately PHP48 million) in the process. With total earnings of USD1,822,486 (about PHP100 million), Saso is currently ninth on the official money list. Born in San Ildefonso, Bulacan to a Filipino mother and Japanese father, Saso has been consistent in her approach to the sport, emphasizing the importance of practice and hard work. "It's a process - doing the same thing over and over again," said the world No. 27 golfer.

In a significant decision, Saso announced in 2021 her choice to renounce Filipino citizenship in compliance with Japanese law, which requires her to select one nationality upon turning 22. Despite this, her connection to the Philippines remains strong, as evidenced by her recent one-day clinic for upcoming golfers at The Country Club in Laguna on December 27. Looking ahead to 2024, Saso plans to participate in all major tournaments, including the Chevron Championship, Women's PGA Championship, US Women's Open, The Evian Championship, and The Women's Open. She is also focused on qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics, despite stiff competition from the Japanese contingent. "There will be tournaments every week, so each week will be important to get to the Olympics," Saso remarked, highlighting her strategy to stay present and not look too far ahead.

Saso's golfing career includes notable achievements as a member of the Philippine team, such as winning the women's individual gold and contributing to the team victory in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia. She also achieved a joint ninth-place finish in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which was postponed to the following year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.