Yuka Saso four-putted. Then she won the U.S. Women’s Open

Yuka Saso celebrates after winning the U.S. Women's Open.

Yuka Saso's patience was rewarded Sunday.

Jack Hirsh/GOLF

LANCASTER, Pa. — It’s not often major championship winners four-putt during their winning weeks. It’s even rarer that soon-to-be champions do it in the final round.

Yuka Saso nearly did it twice on Sunday — at the U.S. Women’s Open, arguably the most sought-after title in women’s golf.

Yet Sunday night, the USGA awarded its Harton S. Semple Trophy to Saso for the second time in four years.

The U.S. Open winner is often the player who makes the fewest mistakes, but on a course as tough as the William Flynn design at Lancaster Country Club — the hardest U.S. Women’s Open setup in 10 years — gaffes are inevitable. The trick is quickly recovering from them.

How did Saso do that so effectively?

“Just stay in the moment and trying to focus on every shot,” she said. “Trying to do my routine I think helps me calm down a little bit and be patient.”

Saso, a 22-year-old Filipino with Japanese citizenship, began the day at two under for the week, three back of the three-way tie for first shared by Minjee Lee, Andrea Lee and Wichanne Meechai. She birdied the par-4 2nd, but any hopes of a front nine run were quickly dashed at the 6th.

The 164-yard par-3 was the second toughest hole of the day at Lancaster Country Club, averaging four-tenths of a stroke over par. The pin was tucked in the front left of the green, dangerously close to the brook that runs along the hole toward the Conestoga River.

Just a few feet past the pin is a slope that sends wayward balls toward the stream, with no collar to save them.

Saso was clearly measuring that threat when she blocked her tee shot 55 feet to the right of the pin and then left her first putt more than four feet short. Her next putt missed the hole entirely, then gathered speed before settling five feet below the hole, farther than from where she started. From there, Saso’s bogey attempt power-lipped out for just her fourth four-putt of her LPGA career.

Saso, who led the field in Strokes Gained: Putting for the week, was shocked.

That’s when her caddie, Dylan Vallequette, stepped in.

Andrea Lee hits a shot at the U.S. Women's Open.
2024 U.S Women’s Open: Payout info, winner’s share in Lancaster
By: Jack Hirsh

“It’s just trying to get refocused, because we have a long day, try to refocus at that point and try to put some good shots together,” said Vallequette, who is in his second year on Saso’s bag.

Saso didn’t recall what Vallequette said to her in that moment, but she did remember what he said to her Sunday morning.

“Whatever happens today, he’ll be very proud of me,” she said. “I think I remembered that all the way. I think those kind of words from him helped me a lot.”

Saso grinded out a few more pars, then began to make her move. She let the opportunity come to her.

Behind her, the final two groups were faltering. Minjee Lee had opened up a three-shot lead. But just as quickly as she pulled ahead, she fell back to the field, playing a nine-hole stretch from Nos. 6 to 15 in eight over to take herself out of the mix.

Fellow overnight co-leaders Andrea Lee and Meechai also struggled, sputtering on the outward nine with a 39 and 40, respectively.

All that time, Saso waited. She had learned the value of patience from her first U.S. Open title in 2021 at Olympic Club.

Stay in the moment. Focus on each as it comes. Stay in my routine.

Saso’s charge started with a dart to 10 feet at the par-3 12th, the most difficult hole at Lancaster all week, and ended with a two-putt birdie on the drivable par-4 16th, her fourth birdie in five holes.

Yuka Saso walks in her putt at the U.S. Women's Open.
Saso walking in her birdie putt at 16. Jack Hirsh/GOLF

By then, she was all alone at the top, up by three strokes at five under.

On 17, Saso took aim at the back-left pin, but pulled her 5-iron slightly long and left, leaving a downhill putt. After two whacks, Saso still had more than three feet left for bogey. Surely she couldn’t win the U.S. Women’s Open with two four putts-on her Sunday card.

“I thought I was going to do something like on hole No. 6 again. It’s just a difficult flag, pin, hole location,” she said. “I think it’s a good challenge, and I told myself it’s a challenge, and if I am able to hole this, then I think I’ll be able to give myself a good chance on the last hole.

“Nothing too serious. I just did my routine, and luckily I holed the putt.”

Turns out she didn’t need it. Saso got up and down at the last for what was a three-shot win.

The best part? She literally got the last laugh, poking fun at herself for her four-putt double at the 6th.

“I think that happens every time,” Saso said at she collected her trophy. “I think that happened to me in 2021. I think that double is good luck.”

Jack Hirsh

Golf.com Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at jack.hirsh@golf.com.



Watch, play, win. Chirp Golf is your home for the best of real money Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and Free-To-Play games.

Watch, play, win

Chirp Golf is your home for the best of real money Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and Free-To-Play games. Featuring simple to play. easy to learn, and fun games. Chirp Golf has something for every golf fan.

Scan to Download:

Google Play Apple Store