While she vows to better her 2022 performance in the upcoming LPGA season, Yuka Saso also braces for another challenging campaign given the ever-improving level of competition in the world’s premier ladies circuit.
Though her showing after making history with a major breakthrough in the US Women’s Open in 2021 didn’t seem to impress some, Saso insisted “it’s (2022) been good,” adding: “It’s my first whole year in the LPGA. It meant a lot. I learned a lot about great golfers.”
With just one runner-up effort (LPGA Mediheal) last October and four other Top 12 finishes in 26 tournaments, marred by seven missed cuts, including three in the Majors, things really didn’t appear to look good for the ICTSI-backed ace, who showed a lot of promise when she bested the best to snare the US Women’s Open diadem via playoff over Nasa Hataoka.
But she remained a promise as she practically struggled trying to nail a second LPGA win, even failing to advance in the US Open.
Saso, however, is eager to resume her campaign starting next month in Florida, stronger and a lot wiser and still armed with that “enjoy, have fun, think positive” mindset.
“I’m very excited for next year. I will not forget having fun playing golf. I appreciate all the help,” said Saso, whose LPGA buildup also got a shot in the arm by tieing up with Federal Land, Inc. the other day.
She also admitted to have been inspired by the youngsters, seven of whom took part in a mini-golf clinic she conducted after signing up with country’s premier real estate developer and gracing the opening of the first-ever Mitsukoshi Mall in the country at the Grand Central Park in North BGC (Bonifacio Global City) last Tuesday.
“It’s still 50-50…I inspire them but they also inspire me. Hopefully, I can continue doing those stuff in the future,” she said.
There’s actually no need for her to reinvent following her mediocre 2022 campaign but to re-calibrate and she hopes to reach her competitive level in time for her first event – the Tournament of Champions on Jan. 19-22 in Orlando, Florida.
She placed sixth in the last T-of-C and wound up third in the Gainbridge LPGA but those strong starts had failed to fuel her drive for top honors the rest of the season, falling short by one to England’s Jodi Shadoff in the LPGA Mediheal.
The next two LPGA events in 2023 are set in Southeast Asia – the Honda LPGA Thailand on Feb. 23-26 and the Women’s World Championship in Singapore on March 2-5 before the Tour heads to China for the Blue Bay LPGA on March 9-12.
“After the T-of-C, I’m not sure yet especially if we have any event in Asia because of Covid, everything is unpredictable, so hopefully I can get a schedule as soon as I can. It’s understandable, because of Covid,” said Saso.
One thing’s certain, though – the Fil-Japanese will be coming into the new season hungry as ever.