by | Jun 17, 2021 | Sports | 0 comments

Yuka Saso – Photo Credit: flickr

19-year-old Filipino-Japanese golf star Yuka Saso, who won the US Women’s Open earlier this month, met her idol Rory McIlroy at Torrey Pines and walked with him during a US Open practice round.

Saso, who modeled her swing through YouTube after that of four-time major winner McIlroy, captured her first major title on June 6th at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. She said meeting McIlroy and walking with him for three holes made her more nervous than making the putt to defeat Nasa Hataoka of Japan in a sudden-death playoff for the US Women’s Open crown.

McIlroy, who had heard about Saso’s similar swing, made an inspiring post on Instagram before her final round at the US Women’s Open. “Great playing the last few days @yukasaso_official. Go finish it out today and get that (trophy emoji),” McIlroy wrote.

After her victory, Saso said, “Rory mentioned me on Instagram and said, ‘Get that trophy.’ And I did. So thank you, Rory.” 

McIlroy tweeted his congratulations, saying, “Everyone is going to be watching Yuka Saso swing videos on YouTube now.” 

She went to the driving range to seek out McIlroy only to learn that he was already on the course. Saso saw PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson among others. “I saw Phil activating his calves, and I saw Jordan Spieth. I saw the great players,” she said.

Then she found him on the famed Torrey Pines layout. “I didn’t know how to say, ‘Hi.’ But he was so nice. He was so kind. He was so open,” Saso said. “When I asked him a question, he was so honest. I hope I can ask him more advice. He let me go inside the ropes. That was really great,” Saso said. “I talked to him about things. I can’t share it with you guys. I want to keep it with me.”

“He said I swing it good. Maybe I can ask him someday about any tips about my swing. I only followed him for three holes, and I didn’t really want to bother him. It’s a very important tournament. Maybe someday if he has the free time, if we can talk maybe more, then I will ask him,” Saso said.

The McIlroy meeting is part of a whirlwind tour for Saso since her major triumph. “It has been great, busy at the same time,” she said. “It has been surreal. I just enjoy it.”