LOS ANGELES – Nasa Hataoka got away with DIO Implant LA Open on Sunday at Wilshire Country Club to open the two-week LPGA Tour race in the Los Angeles area.
Four strokes ahead entering the round after Jin Young Ko’s late collapse on Saturday, Hataoka closed with a 4-under 67 for a five-stroke win over Hannah Green.
“I had a lead, but obviously this course, this tough course, you never know what’s going to happen,” Hataoka said. “I was able to concentrate until the last putt.”
Hataoka finished 15-under 269, a swipe at the tournament record set last year by Brooke Henderson. The 23-year-old Japanese player won her sixth LPGA Tour title a week after missing the windy LOTTE Championship Cup in Hawaii with rounds of 75 and 77.
“I don’t know if I can compare that, but on the PGA Tour, Jordan Spieth missed the cut at the Masters and then won Heritage,” Hataoka said. “So you never know what’s going to happen in golf.”
The Palos Verdes Championship begins Thursday at Palos Verdes Estates.
After seven straight pars, Hataoka put the tournament aside at the par-4 15th when she ran into a 35-foot eagle putt to open a six-stroke lead.
“That eagle really helped me relax a bit, I felt like I was wearing really well today,” Hataoka said.
Hataoka played the first seven holes at 3 under with four birdies and a bogey. She was the only player on the court to shoot in the 60s on all four days, opening with rounds of 67, 68 and 67.
“To be honest, the first day I didn’t feel good with my iron game, but on the seventh hole, something clicked inside me, which really helped me all week,” Hataoka said. “Putting-wise, poa annua greens are really difficult to play, but my experience on this type of green helped me a lot.”
Green finished with a 68.
“Certainly, really happy with the way things are going,” said the Australian. “It was good to be a little bit more consistent. Last week I got off to a good start and I just couldn’t sustain it in Hawaii. So I feel like once that the putter is hot, I’m pretty excited to see what’s to come.
Madelene Sagstrom (66) was 7 under with 2019 winner Minjee Lee (68) and Hall of Famer Inbee Park (70).
“Greens are really tough,” Park said. “I wasn’t able to make a lot of putts today, but I managed to make some good ups and downs. So happy with the ride. It was stable, but it was definitely tricky there.
Top-ranked Ko, tied for the lead with Hataoka with three holes to play on Saturday before a bogey-quadruple bogey-birdie finish left her five strokes behind, had a 75 tied for 21st at 2 under.
On Saturday 16 par-4, she twice failed to get the ball out of the deep barranca en route to the 8. On Sunday, she had a double bogey on the par-3 seventh and bogey the last two holes.
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