Even during the most challenging period in Philippine sports history, young golfer Yuka Saso still found a way to stand up and deliver.
The 19-year-old Saso was a bundle of hope and inspiration for the more than 100 million Filipinos at a time when local sports took a severe beating as the COVID-19 outbreak cast its huge shadows not only in the country but globally as well.
The Filipina golfer who hails from San Ildefonso, Bulacan hardly missed a beat after turning pro in 2020 following a remarkable amateur career highlighted by a double gold medal in the 2018 Asian Games.
Two straight titles in the rich Japan LPGA and a strong 13th place finish in the US Open in her first crack at a major LPGA championship capped Saso’s rookie season that gave Philippine sports the kick it needed in this trying times.
As bearer of good tidings and optimism in perhaps the most difficult period for Filipino athletes since World War II, Saso will be recognized with the 2020 Athlete of the Year award by the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) come its traditional Awards Night on March 27 at the TV5 Media Center.
Saso leads a compact list of awardees to be honored by the country’s oldest media organization led by its President Tito S. Talao of the Manila Bulletin during the virtual event presented by San Miguel Corporation and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
Long-time partner Cignal TV will again cover the awards presentation also supported by 1-Pacman Partylist and Rain or Shine.
This will be Saso’s second Athlete of the Year honor in the last three years, but first time as an individual awardee as she previously shared the accolade with fellow golfers Bianca Pagdanganan and Lois Kaye Go, along with weightlifer Hidilyn Diaz during the 2018 edition of the annual event following their gold medal romp in the Jakarta Asiad.
The golfer with a Japanese descent was quick to make heads turn when she decided to turn pro last year.
She scored back-to-back triumphs in the Japan LPGA by topping the NEC Karuizawa Championship and the Nitori Ladies Golf Tournament, respectively.
Before the year ended, Saso showed she could compete side by side with the best of the world following a 13th place finish in the women’s US Open won by South Korea’s Kim A-Lim.
Entering 2021, the Filipina ranked 45th in the world and amassed a total of P50 million in earnings during her rookie season.
Aside from the Athlete of the Year, the PSA will likewise hand out its regular awards such as the Executive of the Year, President’s Award, National Sports Association (NSA) of the Year, and the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Major honorees in various sports as well as citations and recognitions are likewise included in the honor roll list.