Yuka Saso, a teenager who models the game after Rory McIlroy, leads the US Women’s Open

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Yuka saso is a 19-year-old Filipino pro who models her game after the four-time major champion Rory McIlroy‘s even while studying videos of her swing on YouTube.

Saso put on a nice knockoff on Friday at the Olympic Club, where she netted two late birdies to grab the lead on her own at the US Women’s Open. Her 67 out of 4 under par took her to 6 under par for the tournament, one step ahead of Jeongeun Lee6 (67).

Saso shone on the par 3s, in particular, on his smooth run around the Lake Course. She managed the par of No. 3 and birdies at No. 8, 13 and 15 to climb to the top of the standings.

Last year, after turning pro in November 2019, Saso won two LPGA Tour of Japan events. She also finished tied for 13th at the rescheduled US Women’s Open in Houston in December. Saso occupies 40th place in this week’s world rankings.

As she soared, first round co-leader Mel reid spat. She shot 73 as she felt back tightness on a cold afternoon in the southwest corner of San Francisco (mid-1950s temperatures).

Reid, who grew up in England and now lives in Jacksonville, Florida, made no apologies.

“Living in Florida made me sweet, obviously,” she said, “because if I lived in London I probably wouldn’t have these issues. You just have to get through it. no use moaning about it.

Li surges: Lucie Li, the 18-year-old Symetra Tour pro from Redwood City, did more than succeed. Her par 71 propelled her to a tie for 18th before the weekend.

Li, who became the youngest qualifier in Women’s Open history at age 11, hired Daniel Connolly like his caddy for the week. Connolly, 23, won the San Francisco City Championship in 2016 and ended his college career last year at SMU.

It is no coincidence that Connolly has been a member of the Olympic club since the age of 8. So he brings valuable local knowledge to Li, who had only played the Lake Course (aged 9) once until this spring.

“Daniel is awesome,” Li said. “He’s helped me a lot with my numbers and playing the greens. We get along very well, that’s good. He helps me stay free there.

Kay cockerill, the Golf Channel commentator and member of the Olympic Club, connected Connolly and Li several weeks ago. Connolly is enjoying the ride.

“Lucy is a joy to watch,” he said. “You can’t teach him tenacity or courage. It’s cool to witness this firsthand.

Li had a roller coaster ride on Friday, with six birdies, four bogeys and a double bogey. But she finished in style, birding three of her last four holes.

Briefly: Michelle Wie West shot 80 and missed the cut at 12 above par. Among the other notable players who did not qualify for the weekend: Paula Creamer (From 9 years old), Christina kim (From 9 years old), Cristie Kerr (From 10 years old), Nelly Korda (11 years and over) and Rose Zhang (14 years old and over). … Sarah Burnham, a 25-year-old Tour pro and two-time Big 10 player of the year at Michigan State, had the tournament’s lowest round (66). This marked a big improvement over his first lap 76.… Jennifer kupcho made a hole-in-one on No. 13, a par-3 by playing shorter than usual (134 yards).

Ron Kroichick is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: rkroichick@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @ronkroichick





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Rachel Amaral

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