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Saso focusing on learning more than earning
Yuka Saso
Photo courtesy of usga.org

Saso focusing on learning more than earning

Dante Navarro (Philstar.com) - January 21, 2021 - 4:17pm

MANILA, Philippines – Six weeks into the resumption of the integrated 2020-21 seasons of the LPGA of Japan Tour, Yuka Saso can’t wait to get going again, eager to learn to boost her stock more than grow her earnings.

“The season isn’t done yet here in Japan, so I’m not really thinking about the money ranking and other things,” Saso, who emerged as the top money earner in the pandemic-hit 2020 season with Y93.8 million in winnings on two victories and six Top 10 finishes, told The STAR.

The 19-year-old shotmaker, who fell short of her LPGA bid in 2019, likewise made quite an impression in her first US major, crowding the world’s best in the early going before ending up joint 13th in the US Women’s Open, a finish she would however opt to downplay.

“I believe I still have a lot of things to learn (from the world’s top players), so I don’t think it’s right to measure myself with them,” said the ICTSI-backed ace, whose sterling rookie campaign hurtled her from No. 282 in late 2019 to No. 45 in the current world ranking.

Saso’s strong US Women's Open showing likewise sparked conversations about the golfer’s potential to slug it out with the world's best. But the 2018 Asian Games double gold medalist would tone down expectations, maintaining: “Obviously, they all achieved so many things that I haven’t, so I’ll just say I still have long way to go.”

She resumes that trek in the Daikin Orchid Ladies golf tournament beginning March 4 in Okinawa Prefecture where she expects to play better, stronger against a souped-up field headed by local aces Hinako Shibuno, Ayaka Furue and Ai Suzuki.

“For me, my motivation is I like golf,” said Saso, who also won Y500,000 in topping a driving contest in the Tokai Ladies Classic.

Looking back to her maiden pro season, the power-hitter said she wasn’t expecting to win but learn from the seasoned campaigners in the region’s most lucrative circuit.

“I wasn’t expecting anything but just wanted to learn from veteran pros here in JLPGA,” she said. “It’s hard to explain or express what I learned but it’s a good experience.”

Her exploits should validate that assertion.

GOLF YUKA SASO
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