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Yuka Saso: I am a Filipino

Jan Veran - Philstar.com
Yuka Saso: I am a Filipino
Yuka Saso of Japan watches the ball after teeing off on the 12th hole during the third round of the 2022 Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club on January 22, 2022 in Orlando, Florida.
Julio Aguilar / Getty Images / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — Pressed for the rationale behind the decision to play for the flag of Japan starting in the Tournament of Champions, Yuka Saso on Saturday reiterated she's a Filipino, virtually putting at rest all the mixed vibes generated by her early citizenship switch.

“Whatever I represent, I am a Filipino,” stressed Saso after the third round of the Tournament of Champions in Florida.

She maintained that her team’s decision to make the early citizenship switch was done solely to free her from any possible travel woes that may arise during the course of her country-hopping campaign as an LPGA player.

“It was just for passport, more like it,” she said. “Because if I have the Japanese passport and I can travel anywhere without any visa, it will be very helpful for my game, for my career.”

Saso will be very busy in the next four years after gaining a five-year exempt status in the LPGA following her historic victory in the US Women’s Open last year. 

After a three-tournament swing in Florida, she is scheduled to compete in Singapore and Thailand then back to California, all in March, in Hawaii then back to California in April, in France and Scotland in July, in Northern Ireland and Canada in August, then back to the US.

There are also scheduled events in China, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan then back again to Florida for the season’s last two events in November.

“I’m very happy, thankful that I’ll be able to play full season,” said Saso, who actually fell short of her LPGA Q-School bid in 2019, paving the way for her entry to the Japan LPGA where she flourished in her rookie season with two victories in 2020.

Those feats boosted her world ranking and she consequently drew some invites to play in some select LPGA Tournaments, including the majors, where she seized the moment and snared the US Women’s Open diadem last June.

“It’s my dream (to play full-time in the LPGA),” she added. “And I’ll try to enjoy every moment.”

Born in San Ildefonso, Bulacan to a Japanese father and Filipino, the ICTSI-backed Saso, 20, announced her citizenship preference when she made her return to the LPGA of Japan Tour last November, citing Japan’s national law which states dual citizens must select their nationality by the age of 22.

There were, however, reports that in a revised Japan Civil Code, which takes effect on April 1, a Japanese citizen who has dual nationality at age 18 will have two years to choose just one of them.

GOLF

YUKA SASO

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