Minnesota Golf Association

Saso Wins U.S. Women's Open in Playoff

June 7, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO -- In 2008, Inbee Park won the U.S. Women's Open at Interlachen Country Club. She was the youngest winner in the history of the tournament, at 19 years, 11 months and 17 days old.

On Sunday, Yuka Saso overcame a five-shot lead by Lexi Thompson in the last 10 holes at The Olympic Club and defeated Nasa Hataoko in a playoff to win the 2021 Women's Open. She tied Park as the youngest winner of the tournament -- at 19 years, 11 months and 17 days old. 

That's a little bit like Labron James, Tiger Woods and Sandy Koufax all having Dec. 30 as their birthday. It almost makes you believe in astrology. Or something. 

Actually, what Saso believes in is herself. Otherwise, there's no way she could have come back from a disastrous start -- consecutive double bogeys on the second and third holes -- by playing 2 under par for the last 15 holes on a brutally difficult course. She made two birdies in a row down the stretch, at the par-5 16th and 17th holes, to catch Thompson.

Hataoko made three birdies in a four-hole stretch -- 13, 14 and 16 -- as she, too, caught Thompson, who then dropped out of a three-way tie for first when she bogeyed the 18th hole. 

Saso is from the Philippines and is a regular on the LPGA of Japan Tour, where she has won twice. She's played in three LPGA events during the last seven months, all of them major championships -- 2020 U.S. Women's Open (December), ANA Inspiration (April) and 2021 U.S. Women's Open -- and she shot 69 in the first round of each. She also shot 77 in the third round of the first two of those tournaments.

Despite the 77 in the third round of last year's Women's Open, she tied for 13th.

This time, she overcame her third-round-of-majors jinx and shot 71 on Saturday, which had her one behind Thompson. She shot 2-over 73 in Sunday's final round at Olympic for a 72-hole total of 280 (4 under). Hataoko came from six strokes back with a 68 on her way to 280. Thompson shot 75 to finish at 281. She had 41 on the back nine, a result of a double and three bogeys. 

The playoff was scheduled for two holes (Nos. 9 and 18), total score, and then sudden death if it was still tied. Saso and Hataoko both made pars on those first two holes.
So they went back to the ninth hole, a 380-yard par 4, and Saso made a 10-footer for birdie to claim the trophy -- not to mention the $1 million first-place check. 

Megan Khang posted a 70 on Sunday and tied for fourth, along with Shanshan Feng, at 282. Angel Yin shot 70, as well, and ended up alone in sixth place at 284. 

The low score of the day was a 67 by Xiyu Lin, who was part of a five-way tie for seventh at 285. Also at that number were Inbee Park and Jin Young Ko, the No. 1 player in the Rolex Women's Rankings, plus Brooke Henderson and Aria Jutanugarn.

Amy Olson, the former North Dakota State star who tied for second with Ko last December in the 2020 Women's Open, was another stroke back, tied for 12th with a 286. She closed with a 71.

Thompson moved up to the top of the leaderboard with a 66 on Saturday. That equaled the lowest score of the week, and only one other player went that low -- Sarah Burnham, the former three-time MGA Women's Player of the Year who is in her third season on the LPGA Tour. The 66 that she put together on Friday vaulted her into a tie for 12th place, but she shot 78 and 79 on the weekend, finishing tied for 57th at 299.


2021 U.S. Women's Open 

At The Olympic Club

Par 71, 6,362 yards

San Francisco

Final results 

1. Yuka Saso                  $1,000,000      69-67-71-73--280

2. Nasa Hataoka               $594,000     72-69-71-68--280

3. Lexi Thompson             $381,974       69-71-66-75--281

T4. Megan Khang             $245,394       68-70-74-70--282

T4. Shanshan Feng          $245,394       69-70-72-71--282

6. Angel Yin                      $191,751       68-79-67-70--284

T7. Brooke Henderson     $147,260        68-78-69-70--285

T7. Inbee Park                  $147,260        71-69-73-72--285

T7. Aria Jutanugarn         $147,260         71-70-74-70--285

T7. Xiyu Lin                      $147,260         72-74-72-67--285

T7. Jin Young Ko              $147,260          70-74-72-69--285

T12. Amy Olson              $108,180         73-72-70-71--286

T57. Sarah Burnham        $12,004         76-66-78-79--220

Missed cut (148)

T75. Bella McCauley                                  80-70--150

T100. Kim Kaufman                                   74-79--153 

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