Yuka Saso receives advice from Rory McIlroy, hopes to continue strong play after US Women's Open Triumph
Yuka Saso is going to keep Rory McIlroy’s advice a secret, but as she tees it up at her first KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, she’s hoping that some of the two-time PGA Championship winner’s good vibes will rub off on her.
Saso, who won the last major championship on the LPGA Tour’s schedule, comes to Atlanta Athletic Club still riding high from her major triumph a couple of weeks ago at the U.S. Women’s Open.
Her swing was long known in golfing circles as one that looked very similar to McIlroy’s (who won the PGA Championship in 2012 and 2014) and she got a shoutout from the man himself on the weekend of the U.S. Women’s Open as she tried to take the tournament across the finish line.
And then she got to meet McIlroy at Torrey Pines.
“When I got there, of course I went to find Rory first, and they did a great job on guiding me to see Rory, and... I told them I don't want to disturb Rory because it's a big tournament,” said Saso. “I want him to focus, as well, but Rory was very nice, and I think, for me, it felt like he was happy also.”
Saso, who earned LPGA Tour status with her win, said that home in the Philippines there have been many people cheering her on and messaging her after her win. It took her almost a week, she said, to get back to all the well-wishers.
She wasn’t actually aware that her win got her LPGA Tour status but now she’s focused on playing in the United States and learning from the best golfers in the world.
“It’s been my dream,” she said.
Saso admitted she didn’t watch any highlights from her U.S. Women’s Open victory (“I don’t really like watching my own video. I’d rather watch Rory’s,” she said with a laugh) but acknowledged that this is a different tournament with a different set of challenges she’ll have to navigate.
She has played three LPGA Tour events so far this year and hasn’t missed a cut. She finished tied for 50th at the ANA Inspiration and tied for 6th at the LOTTE Championship in her other two starts (beside the U.S. Women’s Open win) in 2021.
All she was trying to do at the U.S. Women’s Open, she said, was focus on one shot at a time and play her best golf. It’s an attitude she’s hoping will continue this week at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Saso said the heat and humidity are going to be some of the biggest challenges for her this week but said AAC is looking “very beautiful.”
“I think I need to hit good tee shots down the fairway, so I’ll have a chance to get on the green,” she said.
This week Saso looks to become the first golfer since Inbee Park to win both the U.S. Women’s Open and the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in the same season. And she’s brimming with excitement – as a full-fledged LPGA Tour member – and some good advice from a two-time PGA Champion, too.
“He was very nice, and all the questions that I had, he answered me (honestly) and I think he was very sincere,” said Saso of McIlroy. “I was very happy that I was able to meet him.”