By Waylon Galvez
A little over a week since her breakthrough win in the US Women’s Open, Yuka Saso fulfilled another cherished dream – meeting her idol Rory McIlroy.
It was a special treat for the Filipina-Japanese golfer who is turning 20 on June 20.
The meeting occurred Tuesday, June 15, as Saso visited McIlroy during a practice round ahead of the 2021 US Men’s Open championship on June 17 to 20 at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, California.
It was a dream came true for Saso to meet McIlroy, the Northern Ireland native to whom she patterned her game when she was 13 years old – at that time she was starting to climb up the rankings as one of the top junior golfers in the Philippines.
The 19-year-old Saso made history recently when she became the first Filipino to capture the US Women’s Open title by winning a three-hole playoff against Nasa Hataoke of Japan at the Lake Course of The Olympic Club in San Francisco, California.
Saso matched the championship record of Park In-bee of South Korea as the youngest winner in the championship’s history at 19 years, 11 months and 17 days, and in the way pocketed $1 million – approximately P48 million – for winning one of the five major titles in women’s professional golf.
Prior to the final round of the US Women’s Open, McIlroy, who won the US Men’s Open title in 2011, posted on ‘My Day’ via his Instagram account by encouraging her to “get the trophy”.
After Saso’s stirring win, the 32-year-old McIlroy congratulated her on Twitter, saying: “Everyone’s going to be watching Yuka Saso swing videos on YouTube now. Congratulations!”
In an online interview with local media, Saso said that meeting McIlroy would be different.
“Mas magiging happy ako pag mag-kita kami in person. But I’m thankful he messaged me.
With a golf swing patterned after McIlroy, Saso dominated at the amateur level highlighted by a double gold medal win during the Asian Games in Indonesia back in 2018.
As a pro, she won two titles as a rookie at the Japan LPGA Tour in 2020.
Saso will be aiming for a second major title in the KPMG championship on June 24 to 27 at the Highlands Course in Atlanta, Georgia. A month after that, she will represent the Philippines in the Tokyo Olympics in Japan.