WRECKORDER - FGS Gujilde (The Freeman) - June 10, 2021 - 12:00am

At sudden death, the Olympic Club in San Francisco held its breath as a Filipina born in San Ildefonso birdied on the final hole. There was silence, except the wind blowing and birds tweeting before humans beat them to twit history unfolding, Yuka Saso sank the final putt and won golf major by one stroke. Not a stroke of luck, in industry and discipline she was locked.

Not surprising, her Japanese father made her pledge to the sport, begrudging no one for any sacrifice or compromise, except her fixation to excellence. She endured punishing training outside lush greenery and agonized in obscurity. Discipline owes to her Japanese descent, forbearance to her Filipino inheritance.

She didn’t come out of nowhere. She started somewhere. Then seventeen, the young biracial warned after she won individual and team gold medals in the 2018 Asian Games. Fore. She turned pro a year after and never looked back. But for a time she waited for her time. Like a thief in the night, she robbed in broad daylight and came to life in the graveyard of champions.

Suddenly, a Filipino won the US Women’s Open crown. What are the chances, Yuka tied with another Asian, Korean Inbee Park as the youngest winner at 19 years, 11 months and 17 days. History has a strange way of rewriting herstory. In disbelief, her father thought it was too soon to reach the moon. But talent neither come early nor tardy, it just rises above mediocrity. Yuka now lives not only her dream but her future as well. She has above par chances to qualify for the Olympics in a host country not strange to the prodigy.

In the thrilling three-hole playoff against a foe half her lineage, Yuka calmed her nerves by trusting the process. It worked, but only because she underwent the process. It was not easy, her family relocated to the Philippines to take advantage of its cheaper cost of living to afford a costly sport.

Not only did Yuka win in the prestigious major tournament, she won elsewhere, in the hearts of her countrymen. Her name sounds Japanese, but she sounded more Filipino. Interviewed on national TV, she spoke fluent Tagalog. Or Filipino, which is chiefly Tagalog anyway. She neither pretended having a hard time speaking her mother tongue nor tried to blast with a twang, unlike others who bank on fluency to impress and intimidate. Using borrowed language.

Saso not only sounded Filipino, she also prepared like one. By imitating someone. Not the kind that infringes copyright, but she copied right the perfect swing of Rory McIlroy. The former world number one is flattered by the mimicry. He knows he was not plagiarized, he just inspired.

She also acted like one, dodging the bursting, sparkling, bubbling champagne to celebrate her unprecedented campaign. While others do the popping, she ran away to avoid dripping. So Filipino. Thank you, Yuka Saso, not only for hoisting the silver trophy for us, but for being one of us.

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