Yuka Saso will be looking to plot her geographical domination when she tees it up at this year’s Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific

The 17-year-old from Manila was close to winning the inaugural Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific (WAAP) at Singapore’s Sentosa Golf Club last year when she forced her way into a four-way play-off. But she made up for the loss with a gold medal at the 18th Asian Games along with teammates Bianca Pagdanganan and Lois Kaye Go. The trio went on to win the team gold and marked their place as the first Philippine golf team to do so.

World number 72 Pagdanganan, who also secured the individual bronze medal in the quadrennial games, will also be part of the Philippines contingent in Japan. Joining Saso and Pagdanganan are Abegail Arevalo, Clare Legaspi, Mikhaela Denise Fortuna, and Francesca Bernice Olivares Llas.

Saso has been in terrific form as of late after having finished outside the top four only once in her last seven starts since November 2018. The 30th-ranked Sasos heads to the second edition of the WAAP as the third highest-ranked player in the field. 

Despite the high expectations, the 17-year-old intends to just go out and enjoy herself at the WAAP. “I am very proud of what we did at the Asian Games, especially with my teammate Bianca and Lois. We really had fun out there. The Asian Games taught me so many things. It was a very nice experience,” says Saso, who has committed to the Georgia Bulldogs and plans to pursue a college golf career in the United States before turning professional.

“Even though I did not win, last year’s WAAP was great fun too, and I felt that I learned a lot. I don’t really think about getting so close (to the title), and neither is the tied second-place finish any extra motivation for me to do better this year. There were plenty of positives to take from that result.”

Over the past years, women’s golf has boomed in the Philippines especially after the unprecedented success of Saso and the team at the Asian Games. There are currently four Filipino ladies ranked inside the top 100 of the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR). 

This year’s WAAP will take place at The Royal Golf Club in Hokoto, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan from Apr.25-28