Golf: Saso virtual lock for Tokyo Olympics, after rising to 9th in world rankings

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 08 2021 01:18 AM | Updated as of Jun 10 2021 03:44 AM

Saso waves to the gallery after her putt on the 18th green during the final round of the U.S. Women's Open golf tournament at The Olympic Club, San Francisco on June 6. Kelvin Kuo, USA Today Sports/Reuters

Kyodo says dad sees Yuka shifting to Japan later on; golfer says ‘sticking’ with PH

Yuka Saso of the Philippines could add “Olympian” to her growing resumé after shooting up in the Women's World Golf Rankings Monday. 

From 40th, the 19-year-old rose all the way to No. 9, virtually assuring herself of a berth at the Tokyo Olympics.

Those who finish in the top 60 in the rankings — each in the men's and women's divisions — get a berth to the Japan Games.

According to the International Golf Federation, the sport's world governing body:

The Olympic field is restricted to 60 players for each of the men’s and women’s competitions. The IGF will utilise the official world golf rankings to create the Olympic Golf Rankings as a method of determining eligibility. The top-15 world-ranked players will be eligible for the Olympics, with a limit of four players from a given country. Beyond the top 15, players will be eligible based on the world rankings, with a maximum of two eligible players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the top-15.

Saso's victory at the US Women's Open on Sunday was worth 100 points, which hiked her ranking points to 193.29 from 33 events. 

Her 5.52 average was good for 9th place, ahead of No. 10 Nasa Hataoka of Japan, whom Saso beat in the playoff at the US Women's Open, and No. 11 Lydia Ko of New Zealand.

Ko won the Lotte Championship in April where Saso placed 6th.

Golf, which was part of the Olympic program at the 1900 and 1904 Games before being shelved, was reinstated for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. 

Once Saso's qualification is formally announced, the San Ildefonso town, Bulacan native will become the first Filipino golfer to earn an Olympic berth. 

But if a report pertaining to her future were confirmed, her time representing the Philippines, could be numbered. 

According to Kyodo News, “Saso, who won the right to participate in the LPGA Tour for 5 years, is required under Japanese law to choose one nationality by age 22.

“According to her father, Masakazu Saso, she is expected to choose Japanese nationality.”

ABS-CBN News could not independently confirm the report at the time this story was updated.

In a media conference with Filipino journalists after her US Women's Open victory, Yuka Saso said she wants to continue playing for her birth country.

“I actually think I’m sticking with the Philippines, and that won’t change. Whatever happens in the future, I’m still Filipino and I’m still Japanese. I don’t want to choose because I’m both,” she said.

After winning over the weekend, Saso credited her countrymen for their moral support. 

“I don’t know what’s happening in the Philippines right now, but I’m just thankful that there’s so many people in the Philippines cheering for me,” she said. 

“I don’t know how to thank them. They gave me so much energy. I want to say thank you to everyone.”

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