Philippines’ Yuka Saso aims to have fun on her way to
Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific success in Japan
ST ANDREWS (March 29): Having earned herself the title of Asian champion by winning the Asian
Games individual gold medal, Philippine’s Yuka Saso will be looking to extend her geographical
domination when she tees it up at this year’s Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific (WAAP).
The forever smiling 17-year-old from Manila came close to winning the inaugural WAAP at
Singapore’s Sentosa Golf Club last year when she forced her way into a four-way play-off, but a
bogey on the second extra hole denied her victory as Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul prevailed.
Saso made up for that heartbreak later in the year in Jakarta where she won the individual gold
medal in golf at the 18th Asian Games and also combined with teammates Bianca Pagdanganan and
Lois Kaye Go to win the team gold – both a first for Philippines golf.
World number 72 Pagdanganan, who secured the individual bronze medal in the quadrennial
games, will also be a part of the Philippines’ contingent in Japan, along with Abegail Arevalo, Clare
Legaspi, Mikhaela Denise Fortuna and Francesca Bernice Olivares Llas.
Saso has been in terrific form of late, having finished outside the top-four only once in her last
seven starts since November 2018, and heads to the second edition of the WAAP as the third
highest-ranked player in the field at world number 30. The championship will be played at The
Royal Golf Club in Hokota, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan, from April 25-28.
Even though expectations will be high for Saso, given her performance last year and current form,
she intends to just go out and enjoy herself at the WAAP.
“I am very proud of what we did at the Asian Games, especially with my teammate Bianca and Lois.
We really had fun out there. The Asian Games taught me so many things. It was a very nice
experience,” said Saso, who has committed to the Georgia Bulldogs and plans to pursue a college
golf career in the United States before turning professional eventually.
“Even though I did not win, last year’s WAAP was great fun too, and I felt that I learned a lot. I don’t
really think about getting so close (to the title), and neither is the tied second place finish any extra
motivation for me to do better this year. There were plenty of positives to take from that result.
“I am now really looking forward to playing the WAAP again in Japan. We all know that it is such a
prestigious championship. As I said, I just want to enjoy every moment of being there.”
It’s not just her form – that stretch of six top-fours in seven starts includes successfully defending
her Philippine Ladies Open title last month – but also the fact that Saso has played a number of
events on the Japan LPGA Tour and done consistently well that makes her one of the favourites, a
tag she quickly downplayed.
“I’m not so sure if I am playing my best golf at the moment but I’m happy with the way I’m playing
right now. Of course, there’s still a lot of things that I need to work on but what matters to me is I’m
having fun,” said Saso, who made four cuts in the five professional events she played in 2018.
“I am not sure if playing with professional tournaments in Japan will help with my preparations for
the WAAP. But I’m pretty certain the Royal Golf Club will be a big step for me and I will have lots of
questions regarding the golf course when I am there.”
Women’s golf is enjoying a boom in the Philippines. As well as their unprecedented success at the
Asian Games, four Filipino ladies are now ranked inside the top-100 of the WAGR.
Saso credited the National Golf Association for the success and said: “I think it’s because the players
are now working on the right things and the support that we get is getting better.
“I don’t really want to speak for the others but I’m sure everyone, including me, are very excited
and looking forward to the WAAP.”
The field at the Royal Golf Club comprises 15 players ranked inside the top 100 of the WAGR. The
largest contingent is eight players from host nation Japan, while there will be players representing
nations such as Bangladesh, Guam, Vietnam, and Cook Islands – countries where the women’s
game is still in its infancy.
The champion will earn a spot in two of the five women’s majors – the AIG Women’s British Open and the
Evian Championship. She will also receive an invite to the 2020 Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
The Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship has been developed by The R&A and Asia-Pacific Golf
Confederation (APGC) to unearth emerging talent and provide a pathway for Asia’s elite women amateurs to
emerge on the international stage.
The R&A launched the Women in Golf Charter last year and is committed to increasing the participation of
women in the sport. The WAAP is one of several key championships conducted by the governing body and a
significant initiative along with the APGC to drive the popularity of women’s golf in the region.
Kabaya Ohayo Group and Rolex are the championship’s Official Scoring Partners and Evian are Official Water
Supplier. IMG assists with championship staging and TV broadcasting.
For more information on the championship, visit the website at randa.org/WAAP. For updates, like the
championship’s Facebook page and follow @WAAPGolf on Twitter and Instagram.
Entry to the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship is free of charge.
Press Release from rococommunications