Super Saso: Japanese Star Wins Second U.S. Women's Open Title

By David Shefter, USGA

| Jun 02, 2024 | Lancaster, Pa.

Super Saso: Japanese Star Wins Second U.S. Women's Open Title

Yuka Saso made history on Sunday at Lancaster Country Club, becoming the first player in USGA history to win the U.S. Women’s Open Presented by Ally on multiple occasions and for two different countries.

When Saso claimed her first title three years ago at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif., she was representing the Philippines, the country of her mother. A few months later, she switched national allegiances to Japan, the country of her father.

And on a day when most of the leading contenders faded – including the three 54-hole co-leaders Minjee Lee, Wichanee Meechai and Andrea Lee – Saso carded a 2-under 68 for a 72-hole total of 4-under 276, three strokes better than countrywoman and 2019 AIG Women’s British Open champion Hinako Shibuno.

Americans Andrea Lee and Ally Ewing, both past USA Curtis Cup competitors, shared third at even-par 280. Ewing matched the week’s lowest round with a 66, while Lee carded a 75. A qualifier from Thailand, Arpichaya Yubol carded a 69 to finish solo fifth at 1-over 281.

The surprise came from Minjee Lee, the 2022 champion who seemed poised to add a third major title. But the 28-year-old Australian never gained any momentum after an opening-hole birdie, shooting a 78 to ninth at 283. It was her highest round in a U.S. Women’s Open since a third-round 80 in 2018 at Shoal Creek.

Meechai also faded from view with two consecutive three-putt bogeys to start the day. The 31-year-old from Thailand, who has yet to win in nine seasons on the LPGA Tour, fired a 77 to share sixth at 2-over 282 with countrywoman Atthaya Thitikul and Japan’s Ayaka Furue.

Meanwhile, Saso, who matched Inbee Park as the youngest champion in U.S. Women’s Open history in 2021 at 19 years, 11 months and 17 days, became the youngest to win multiple titles at 22 years, 11 months and 13 days. That’s some 18 months younger than Hall of Famers Hollis Stacy (24/4/7) and Mickey Wright (24/4/13), who claimed three and four championships, respectively.

When Saso, playing in the third-to-last grouping with countrywoman Sakura Koiwai, holed a 21-inch par putt on the 72nd hole, she gave a small fist pump and was then congratulated behind the 18th green from In Gee Chun, 2015 champion at Lancaster Country Club who stuck around despite missing the 36-hole cut. She also received a hug from her father, Masakazu, who was not present when she won in San Francisco. Her mom, Fritzie, was not present. She also celebrated with caddie Dylan Vallequette, who was honored by USGA CEO Mike Whan at the prize ceremony.

This was also Saso’s first victory since that U.S. Women’s Open triumph at The Olympic Club.

“It feels great,” an emotional Saso told NBC’s Tom Abbott at the prize ceremony. “I think winning in 2021 I represented the Philippines. I feel like I was able to give back to my mom. This year I was able to represent Japan, and I think I was able to give back to my dad. I'm very happy that I was able to do it. It's just a wonderful feeling that I was able to give back to my parents in the same way.”

2019 AIG Women's British Open champ Hinako Shibuno (left) finished solo second, while 54-hole, tri-leader Wichanee Meechai tied for sixth. (USGA/Logan Whitton)

2019 AIG Women's British Open champ Hinako Shibuno (left) finished solo second, while 54-hole, tri-leader Wichanee Meechai tied for sixth. (USGA/Logan Whitton)

Speaking of giving back, Saso appeared to lose control of any early momentum on the par-3 sixth hole with an uncharacteristic four-putt that led to a double bogey. That would be her lone blemish until No. 17, while the other five players in the last three groupings shot a combined 24 over par.

The steely Saso settled down with five consecutive pars before making a charge on the back nine. It started with an 11-foot birdie on the par-3 12th, a hole that derailed more than a few players this week, including a 10 by world No. 1 Nelly Korda in Thursday’s first round and a double-bogey 5 by Minjee Lee on Sunday.

Saso followed that up with an exquisite wedge approach from 77 yards to 3 feet on the par-5 13th hole. Two holes later, her approach from 190 yards stopped 6 feet from the hole for another birdie, getting her to 4 under par and a two-shot lead on the field. With the tees moved up on No. 16 to make it a drivable par 4, Saso found the putting surface with a 237-yard drive to 19 feet, setting up a two-putt birdie.

A rare hiccup on 17 – a three-putt bogey from 37½ feet – cost her a stroke but not the championship.

And when Andrea Lee failed to get up and down for par from a greenside bunker at 17, Saso could celebrate with Chun and fellow Japanese player Shibuno, nicknamed “Smiling Cinderella.”

This proved to be another disappointing USGA setback for Andrea Lee, who first played in this championship 10 years ago as a 15-year-old. In 17 USGA events, she’s been a runner-up (2016 U.S. Girls’ Junior), semifinalist twice (2014 and 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur), a quarterfinalist three times (2014, 2015 U.S. Girls’ Junior, and 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur) and now third in her sixth U.S. Women’s Open. This on top of being a former world No. 1 amateur, a two-time Curtis Cupper and a member of a Women’s World Amateur Team along with nine victories during her time at Stanford University. Last year, she played on her first U.S. Solheim Cup Team.

Lee nervously missed a 4-foot par putt on the opening hole and made a double-bogey 6 on the fourth hole after finding the penalty area off the tee. Another bogey on eight dropped her to 4 over on the day and 1 under for the championship. A 16-foot birdie on the par-3 12th provided some hope for a rally, but she failed to birdie 16, and bogeyed the final two holes, including a 5 at the last that could have earned her a million-dollar payday.

“This was my first time being in the last group of a major championship, both the third and fourth rounds,” said the 25-year-old from Hermosa Beach, Calif. “I was extremely nervous, but I feel like I learned a lot about how to control my emotions out here. Definitely a lot of positives to take away. I feel like this is only going to make me stronger in the long run and give me some confidence going into the rest of the season.”

Shibuno began the day two strokes back of the 54-hole tri-leaders, but a front-nine 37 left the ebullient 25-year-old in a chase mode. Another bogey at 10 put her further behind, but she played 1-under golf over the final eight holes to get second.

It’s the first time in any major championship – for men or women – that Japanese players went 1-2. She also earned nearly $1.3 million.

Saso, meanwhile, took home $2.4 million, the largest prize in women’s major-championship golf.

“I will ask Yuka to buy me something,” said Shibuno.

But money can’t buy the trophy, and Saso now possesses it for a second time. 

American Andrea Lee added another close call to her USGA pedigree, tying for third with Ally Ewing for her best-ever major finish. (USGA/Chris Keane)

American Andrea Lee added another close call to her USGA pedigree, tying for third with Ally Ewing for her best-ever major finish. (USGA/Chris Keane)

What the Champion Receives

  • A gold medal
  • Possession of the Harton S. Semple Trophy for the ensuing year
  • First-place check of $2.4 million
  • Exemptions into the next 10 U.S. Women’s Opens Presented by Ally
  • Exemptions into the next five Chevron Championships, KPMG Women’s PGA Championships, AIG Women’s British Opens and Amundi Evian Championships
  • Name inscribed on the 2024 USGA champions’ plaque that will reside in the Hall of Champions inside the USGA Museum in Liberty Corner, N.J.


  • By finishing among the top 10 and ties, qualifiers Wichanee Meechai and Archipaya Yubol both earned exemptions into the 2025 U.S. Women’s Open at Erin Hills.

  • Alison Lee and Rio Takeda took advantage of the tees being moved up on the par-4 16th hole to just 232 yards by registering the only two eagles. Lee hit her drive 230 yards to 8½ feet before holing the putt. Takeda converted from 53 feet after a 217-yard drive.

  • Nobody had a wilder final day at Lancaster Country Club than Yan Liu. The 26-year-old from the People’s Republic of China, who qualified for this championship and had not made a cut in three previous starts, made seven birdies, an eagle (No. 7), six bogeys and four pars en route to shooting a 3-under 67.  

  • USA Olympic archer Casey Kaufhold, a Lancaster native, was in attendance on Sunday. She competed in the 2020 Tokyo Games and has qualified to compete again this summer in Paris.

  • The battle for low-amateur honors ended in a three-way tie at 12-over 292 between reigning U.S. Amateur champion Megan Schofill, 2024 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball champion and U.S. National Junior Team member Asterisk Talley, and University of Southern California rising sophomore Catherine Park. The only other low amateur from USC was Jennifer Song in 2007 and 2009. Schofill is the first from Auburn University and Talley is a 15-year-old high school freshman.


“Since 2021 I haven't won.  I think it just makes it special because after a long wait, I wasn't expecting to win the U.S. Women's Open. I think that's why it made me a bit emotional. Winning just makes you look back on all the things that your family and your team and my sponsors, they supported me throughout good or bad.” – Yuka Saso on being emotional at the prize ceremony

“I'm not sure how the other players played. I wasn't looking at the scoreboard. I wasn't too relaxed to be able to see the scoreboard. But like I said earlier, I just tried to be focused on my routine and my game, and I think that's why I looked like that on TV.  I think it's a good thing that I looked like that.” – Saso on her calm demeanor during the back-nine run

“I played pretty bad today, but I feel like I can play better. It's the U.S. Open. The pins were so hard today. I'm just so excited today. Sometimes you can play bad golf on one day, but I'm kind of proud of myself that I can handle this week pretty good.” – Wichanee Meechai

“It will end up being my best finish in a major, for sure best finish at a U.S. Open. I think for any golfer, we want to peak around major championships. Starting the week with a 4-over [74] and then just gradually playing the golf course better and better, executing more shots, it's just a really good feeling. This was where I made my first professional U.S. Open start, so really good memories for Lancaster now.” – Ally Ewing after a final-round 66

“It means a lot, especially this is my second U.S. Open and the first time making the cut, so it's a good memory to go for me. Today was a bit rough, but it's the U.S. [Women’s] Open, it's going to get you.  It's just something you've got to fight through. It was a great experience, so nothing I'll ever trade for. The other two girls are amazing, also, so it's great to be titled with them as low amateur for this event.” – Catherine Park on sharing low-amateur honors with Asterisk Talley and Megan Schofill

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.