At the start of Sunday, if you told me Yuka Saso would come out on top to claim her second U.S. Women’s Open, I’d have said that makes plenty of sense. She and Minjee Lee were the favorites coming into the day. Only a few chasers behind them had a real shot of winning, none of whom struck much fear as the weekday rounds sent almost every big name home early. But when the dust settled Sunday evening, the end result of Saso winning was about the only logical thing that happened during the final round at Lancaster Country Club.

Chaos ensued shortly after the contenders teed off, as the “Sunday at the U.S. Women’s Open” nerves spared no one. Take third-round co-leader Wichanee Meechai. Her rental house may have been haunted, but it was the par-3 6th that spooked her most. The creek on 6 gobbled up her tee shot, leading to a championship-ending triple bogey. Hopes for back-to-back American winners rested solely on Andrea Lee’s shoulders, but she never looked comfortable. A front-nine 39 put her in chase mode for the rest of the afternoon, though a valiant fight back to even par resulted in Lee’s best finish in a major.

Top contenders Minjee Lee and Saso weren’t immune to backpedaling, either. Saso steered clear of the creek at the 6th, but four putts later it seemed for a time like her chances had vanished. Minjee Lee started out hot with a birdie at the 1st, but a two-way miss kept her out of the short grass for the majority of the day. This caught up with her on the back nine, as two double bogeys led to a disappointing 78.

Back to Saso, who rattled off five straight pars after the mishap at the 6th. With Minjee coming undone behind her, Saso was all the way up to T-2 on the tee at 12, and it was time to make her move. Yuka Saso can do things with a golf club that the best in the world can’t match. (Exhibit A being this shot of the tournament from Saturday.) Leaning on those skills coming down the stretch is what separated her from the field.

She flexed her power, averaging 294.9 yards off the tee. She flushed her approaches, including a five-iron into the 15th that was pure class.

She used her advantage as a high-ball hitter on the shortened 16th to not only drive but also hold the green.

She put the four putt on 6 out of her head, rolling in birdies at 12, 13, 15, and 16 to add to her 422 feet of putts made for the week. It was a display worthy of acing the most complete test of golf, which is exactly what Saso did, even adding one more moment of brilliance with her final pitch at 18.

The stretch of four birdies in five holes will be remembered as the key to Saso adding her name to the record books. Not only is she now the youngest two-time U.S. Women’s Open winner in history, but she’s also the only person on the LPGA or PGA Tour to have a pair of U.S. Open victories as their first two wins. 

Despite her skill, talent, and young age, a three-year winless gap after her victory at Olympic had many wondering if Saso would ever get another win, much less another major. When asked about what transpired after that win in 2021, she explained, “Everything just happened too quickly. I was young, and I think I had a hard time catching up on the speed that my life was changing”.

The Saso we watched burst onto the scene in 2021 was back and better than ever on Sunday. It took some time, but that second U.S. Women’s Open was worth the wait. 

(photo: USGA/Jason Miczek)

This piece originally appeared in the Fried Egg Golf newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.