How Double US Women's Open Champion Yuka Saso Modelled Her Swing On Rory McIlroy

The young star has two Majors to her name - the 2021 and 2024 US Women's Open - after using McIlroy's swing as inspiration during her teenage years

Split-screen image of Rory McIlroy and Yuka Saso hitting driver
(Image credit: Getty Images)

As a young professional golfer, there are plenty of great people upon whom modelling your swing would be a good idea. And one of the most powerful hitters in the modern era is certainly up there.

Back during her early teenage years, Yuka Saso was dreaming of making it as a pro and lifting Major championships. And in order to do so, she spent hours and hours in front of a mirror going through the motion of swinging a golf club - just like Rory McIlroy.

A handful of years later, and the pro golfer who has now won a US Women's Open as a representative of both the Philippines and Japan (her mother is from the former and her father the latter) can say with some certainty that it was time well spent.

Saso claimed the 2021 title as a 19-year-old via a playoff to become the joint-youngest champion ever alongside Inbee Park, while the now-22-year-old completed her second triumph in much more comfortable style at Lancaster Country Club in 2024 courtesy of a three-shot gap to second place.

Golf Channel's Morgan Pressel shared a story during last Sunday's broadcast of the US Women's Open in which Saso's father revealed to her years ago that his daughter would stand in front of a mirror before and after school in order to hone her skills.

Yuka Saso holds the Women's US Open trophy

Yuka Saso holds the US Women's Open trophy in 2024

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Asked about that very subject in the aftermath of her second US Women's Open championship victory on Sunday, Saso confirmed it was true.

She said: "Yeah, I did that mirror thing before I'd go to school, and after I'd come back from school. I'd stay on the golf course until it gets dark because I live inside the golf course when I started. Yeah, I think just staying a lot of times on the golf course or holding a golf club, pretty much 12 hours I think helps a little bit."

Not only did Saso 'shadow swing' during her school years, she would also watch videos of McIlroy on YouTube before going to bed in order to learn from his methods.

A particular highlight for the former aspiring pro was the Northern Irishman's debut Major success at the 2011 US Open.

Speaking to CNN about her fascination with McIlroy days before her first US Women's Open victory in 2021, Saso said: “Watching him made me feel like: ‘Oh, he’s a very cool guy, he’s got a very nice swing. So I said to myself: ‘Why not try copy it?’ And that’s where it all started.”

In response, McIlroy was asked about his professional admirer's comments midway through the 2021 Memorial Tournament. The four-time Major winner admitted "there's some similarities" before expanding: "The way she sort of turns off the ball, like the way our heads both go at impact. There is some stuff there.

"So it's flattering, obviously, and it's really cool that someone that's used me as a model is leading the US Open. And I'm really into it."

After telling Saso to "go get that trophy" on social media later that day, the first Filipino ever to win a Major duly obliged. In her 2021 champion's interview, Saso referenced McIlroy's orders, to which the Northern Irishman posted once more with the caption: "Everyone’s going to be watching Yuka Saso swing videos on YouTube now. Congratulations!"

For the future golf stars, you now have the choice of who to learn from on YouTube - Rory McIlroy or Yuka Saso, the results are pretty similar.

Jonny Leighfield
Staff Writer

Jonny Leighfield is our Staff News Writer who joined Golf Monthly just in time for the 2023 Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup. He graduated from the University of Brighton with a degree in Sport Journalism in 2017 and spent almost five years as the sole sports reporter at his local newspaper. An improving golfer who still classes himself as ‘one of the worst players on the Golf Monthly team’, Jonny enjoys playing as much as he can and is hoping to reach his Handicap goal of 18 at some stage. He attended both the 150th and 151st Opens and is keen to make it an annual pilgrimage.