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Saso Wins 2nd Career U.S. Women's Open

Saso Wins 2nd Career U.S. Women's Openillustration

secured her second U.S. Women's Open title on Sunday, making history once more. After becoming the first Filipino to win the Women's Open in 2021, she now holds the distinction of being the first from Japan to claim victory in women's golf's most prestigious event.

The 22-year-old Saso delivered an impressive performance at Lancaster Country Club with a 2-under 68. She made four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the back nine, avoiding the drama that plagued many of her competitors.

Saso finished at 4-under 276, winning by three shots over Hinako Shibuno, who in 2019 became the first Japanese player to win the Women's British Open. They were the only two players to finish under par, the fewest in a decade for the Women's Open.

With two titles on the Japan LPGA, Saso joined Se Ri Pak and In Gee Chun as the only players to secure major championships as their first two LPGA victories.

Andrea Lee, who began the day tied for the lead, was the last player with a chance to catch Saso. However, Lee faltered with a missed tee shot on the 16th, resulting in a par, and then bogeyed the 17th and 18th holes to finish with a 75, tying for third with Ally Ewing (66).

Saso, whose mother is from the Philippines and father from Japan, switched her citizenship before turning 21. This decision led to a strong showing by Japanese players, with five finishing in the top 10.

“Winning in 2021, I represented the Philippines. I feel like I was able to give back to my mom,” Saso said at the trophy presentation. “This year I was able to represent Japan, and I think I was able to give back to my dad. I'm very happy that I was able to do it.

“It's just a wonderful feeling that I was able to give back to my parents in the same way.”

Saso's victory earned her $2.4 million from the $12 million purse, the largest in women's golf and women's sports at a standalone venue. This win also positions her for a return to the Olympics, having played for the Philippines in the 2021 Tokyo Games and tying for ninth.

Sunday's final round was marked by significant collapses. The final two groups combined for a 22-over par performance, with Minjee Lee's downfall being particularly notable.

Minjee Lee, a two-time major champion, led by three shots on the front nine. However, a tee shot into the water on the par-3 12th resulted in a double bogey, followed by another double bogey after hitting into waist-high grass on the 14th. She finished with a 78.

“I started good,” she said. “Just missed a couple putts for birdie early and then I kind of blew up from there.”

Wichanee Meechai of Thailand, ranked No. 158 in the and with no LPGA wins, also struggled. She shot a 77, including a triple bogey on the par-3 sixth.

Saso had her own challenges, including a four-putt double bogey on the par-3 sixth that left her four shots behind Minjee Lee. Her comeback began with a 10-foot birdie putt on the 12th, followed by a wedge to 3 feet on the par-5 13th, and continued with an approach to 6 feet on the 15th. She then hit a 3-wood to 20 feet on the par-4 16th for a two-putt birdie.

Despite a three-putt on the par-3 17th, Saso maintained her lead. She was in the scoring room when her victory became official, receiving hugs from her fellow players.

Saso joins Sally Little as the only women to win majors under two flags. Little won the 1980 LPGA for South Africa and the du Maurier Classic in 1988 as an American citizen.

The final round saw numerous collapses. Andrea Lee three-putted the first hole and took a double bogey on the fourth after driving into a creek, hitting a tree with her third shot, and getting up-and-down from a bunker. Meechai three-putted her first two holes and found the creek on the par-3 sixth.

In her 2021 U.S. Women's Open win, Saso benefitted from Lexi Thompson's late collapse. This time, Saso seized control with clutch putting and capitalizing on scoring opportunities.

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