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Rory McIlroy a big part in Yuka's major breakthrough

Philstar.com
Rory McIlroy a big part in Yuka's major breakthrough
Yuka Saso had long ago disclosed her obsession with Rory McIlroy's swing, watching the golf star's videos on YouTube since she was 12.
AFP photos

MANILA, Philippines – She missed browsing on her longtime idol’s inspiring message, but Yuka Saso still got the job done, snaring the US Women’s Open championship practically behind a swing she modelled after former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy.

“I saw it (message) this morning and I was like…ohhh,” said Saso with a chuckle and excitement of a fan. “I should have reposted it but I was so busy this morning, so I’ll do it later.”

In an Instagram message in the final round of the women's pro golf premier championship at the Olympic Club in California in the West coast, McIlroy, who was also competing in The Memorial at Muirfield in Ohio in the midwestern region of the US, posted: “Great playing the last few days @yukasaso_official. Go finish it out today and get that (trophy).”

She did — and how.

Saso, who had long ago disclosed her obsession with the four-time major champ’s swing, watching his videos on YouTube since she was 12, bucked a horrible start with an explosive finish, birdying the last two par-5s to save a 73 and force a two-hole aggregate playoff with Japanese Nasa Hataoka.

She then steeled herself up in the bone-crunching stretch, drilling in a clutch par putt on the second playoff to extend the match before burying a 10-footer for birdie off another superb shot from the rough to finish off the world No. 13, thus becoming the first Filipina – and one of the two youngest in the world —  to win a major championship.

Five-time Philippine Ladies Open champion Jennifer Rosales had captured two LPGA Tour leg titles — the Chick-Fil-A in 2004 and the SBS Open the following year — with her tied for fourth finishes in the 2002 British Women’s Open and in the US Women’s Open in 2004 her best in the majors.

“I felt really happy,” said Saso, who also pounced on American Lexi Thompson’s tormenting backside collapse to emerge new darling of women’s pro golf.

After news of her liking to McIlroy’s golf swing was brought again following her surge to the top halfway through the fabled event, the amiable Irishman responded and acknowledged some similarities in their styles.

He even expressed his enthusiasm to meet the ICTSI-backed star in the coming Tokyo Olympics, where both players are shoo-ins to compete.

“The way she sort of turns off the ball, that’s sort of — like the way our heads both go at impact. There is some stuff there,” McIlroy told golfweek.usatoday.com the other day.

Though he never had any idea of how Saso handles herself in big-time tournaments, especially in pressure-packed situations, watching her on TV was enough for McIlroy to be swayed by the former’s talent and guts — and her potential to win major titles.

“I watched some of it Friday night and I’m excited to watch over the weekend and see how she (Saso) does,” said McIlroy.

For sure, he missed the action, having mounted his own charge in the final round of The Memorial. Though McIlroy failed to contend and finished at joint 18th, he would surely not skip the chance to watch how Saso fashion out the improbable win.

“Thank you, Rory,” said Saso, perhaps ahead of the former’s forthcoming congratulatory message.

GOLF

RORY MCILROY

YUKA SASO

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