MANILA, Philippines -- Filipino athletes on Monday were thrilled to witness one of their own make history, as golfer Yuka Saso displayed remarkable poise in winning the U.S. Women's Open.
In second place entering the final round, Saso shook off a poor start and held her nerve in a sudden death playoff against Japan's Nasa Hataoka to become the first golfer from the Philippines to win a major.
Former Ateneo de Manila University women's volleyball captain Bea de Leon, herself an avid golfer, said Saso's triumph was "inspiring" -- especially for her age.
"I can’t get over it. To be able to handle the pressure of a sudden death on a world stage at the age of 19... how inspiring," tweeted de Leon.
Saso tied South Korea's Park Inbee as the youngest woman to win the U.S. Open.
Olympic-bound weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz also hailed Saso, saying: "Thank you sa pagdala ng karangalan sa atin bansa."
Both Diaz and Saso won gold medals in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. Saso actually won two golds, in the individual and team event, where she played together with Bianca Pagdanganan and LK Go.
Pagdanganan was present at the Olympic Club in San Francisco for Saso's triumph and spent the afternoon cheering for her good friend and national team teammate.
Another former Ateneo team captain, Alyssa Valdez, congratulated Saso and also offered some thanks to former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who had sent the Filipina golfer words of advice ahead of the final round.
Basketball stars Kai Sotto, Thirdy Ravena, Kiefer Ravena, and Kobe Paras also tweeted their congratulations for Saso, who brought home a cool $1-million for her triumph.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Sports Commission also offered its congratulations to Saso, who is expected to represent the country in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.