June 25, 2018: Nasa Hataoka entered the final round of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in a share of the lead and just two and three shots clear of some of the biggest names in the game. Minjee Lee shared the lead, Lexi Thompson was two back and Ariya Jutanugarn was just three back.
“I was focusing on my game for the entire 18 and I’m so happy to win,” said Hataoka. “I played with Lexi and all the big names and that was big for me and winning this tournament was huge for me.”
Nasa Hataoka set the tournament scoring record at 21-under 192; the previous mark was 18-under 195, set by So Yeon Ryu in 2017
Hataoka’s six-stroke margin of victory is the largest of the season; the previous largest winning margin was five strokes, done by Inbee Park at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup
Hataoka made four birdies in a near flawless front nine to build a five stroke lead and cruised to her first career win with a 8-under, 63 on Sunday and a three-day score of 21-under. The front nine was highlighted by a chip in on the par-3 third from just off the front of the green.
“When I turned pro, my goal was that within two years I wanted to win an LPGA event, so I can reached the goal. I’m so happy about that” said Nasa.
The 19 year old showed the poise and skill of someone ready to join the elites. With her pursuers trying to catch up, Hataoka made a critical birdie on hole 12 to maintain a five shot lead and then sealed the tournament with a really impressive par save on 13. Hataoka went in the hazard off the tee after her ball bounced down a cart path and had to take a drop and hit a perfect iron shot to 8 feet and drilled the putt for par.
Hataoka cashed in finishing birdies at 15, 17 and 18 to break the tournament scoring record, which was previously 18-under held by So Yeon Ryu from 2017.
Hataoka went the final 40 holes of the tournament without a bogey and made just one over the 54 holes.
She is the 14th player from Japan to win on the LPGA.
Austin Ernst finished second at 15-under while six players tied for third at 13-under including Thompson and Lee, who were paired with Hataoka.
India’s Aditi Ashok finished at T55 after scoring two-under-par 69 in the final round, ending the week with a four-under-par total of 209.
LPGA Tour Release