MANILA, Philippines — Yuka Saso skips this week’s LPGA Match Play event in Las Vegas to focus more on her title retention campaign at the US Women’s Open on June 2 in Southern Pines, North Carolina .
While some of her expected rivals, including world No. 4 Minjee Lee, No. 5 Atthaya Thitikul, No. 8 Hyo Joo Kim and No. 11 Danielle Kang, are using match play as part of their preparation for The US Open, 20-year-old Saso spends the break getting in a physical and mental position to play her best in the premier world championship.
She was so immersed that she avoided distractions leading up to open house week.
“Yuka has a very busy schedule ahead of the USWO and she won’t be able to answer questions ahead of time,” said Ayla Berrigan of Sterling Sports Management, who manages the ICTSI-supported shooter’s career. at Philstar.com.
High expectations arose after Saso pulled off the major breakthrough via a thrilling sudden-death win over fellow Japanese Nasa Hataoka at Olympic Club San Francisco last year. She has four top-five finishes in her next 10 tournaments in 2021, but has never really gotten a clear crack at a second LPGA trophy.
Still, many had hoped for an explosive campaign in 2022, especially after opening the season with a sixth-place finish at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions and then following it up with a third-place finish at the Gainbridge LPGA, both in Florida.
But she missed the cut at the next event, the LPGA Drive On, also in Florida, ending an impressive 22-tournament streak she had played in over the weekend. She then struggled and failed to place top-10 in her next seven events, marred by another missed stint in the Palos Verdes Championship.
But if her last performance in the Founders Cup was any indication, where she rallied from the brink of early elimination to make the cut and finish tied for 12th in New Jersey two weeks ago, the powerhouse champion could be in for a big outing at the challenging Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club next week.
She said earlier that her riding was about right but didn’t produce the results she wanted, so she spends more time on the lineup to get that consistency and confidence.
She also insisted on the need to work on her putting, which holds the key to major championships.
While his lackluster past results would worry most of his fans, Saso said they generally don’t impact his mental game.
“I got good at forgetting them and moving on to the next tournament,” said Saso, who fell to No. 15 in the world after dropping to No. 5 in October last year. “I’m really excited to defend the title.”
So do the rest of the best of the best, including world No. 1 Jin Young Ko, returning No. 2 Nelly Korda, Lee, Thitikul, Lydia Ko, Lexi Thompson, Hataoka, Kim, In Bee Park and Sei Young Kim .
Saso’s ICTSI stable teammates Bianca Pagdanganan and Dottie Ardina, who made the grade in qualifying in Fort Myers, Fla., are also among the elite at the US Women’s Open.