MANILA, Philippines -- Reigning US Women's Open champion Yuka Saso on Thursday confirmed that she is in the process of "acquiring Japanese citizenship," after several years of representing the Philippines in international competitions.
Saso said in a press conference on Wednesday that she has chosen Japanese citizenship, in accordance with a Japanese law that requires those with dual citizenship to choose which country they will represent before turning 22.
"I will be turning 22 years old on 20 June 2023 and, after much thought and consultation with my family, friends and advisors, I have begun the process of acquiring Japanese citizenship," Saso said in a statement.
"Thank you for respecting my choice. I am grateful to both my Filipino and Japanese supporters. I would not have achieved anything in my career without your support. I look forward to making you proud as I continue with my professional golfing career," she added.
Saso represented the Philippines in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, where she won both individual and team gold together with Bianca Pagdanganan and LK Go. She also played for the Philippines in the Tokyo Olympics earlier this year, placing ninth overall.
In June, she became the first Filipina to win a golf major when she won the US Women's Open.
Despite her choice, Saso made it clear that she remains proud of her roots. The 20-year-old was born to a Japanese father and a Filipino mother in Bulacan.
"I am a Filipina, born in the Philippines to a Japanese father and Filipino mother. I was raised in both Japan and the Philippines. I am immensely proud of my dual heritage and that will never change," Saso stressed.
Saso is competing in the Toto Japan Classic this week.