Apr 25th, 2022
Nasa Hataoka wins DIO Implant LA Open
Japanese player picks up her sixth LPGA title in Hollywood
Photography: Getty Images
The Japanese native was the only player this week to card all four rounds in the sixties, posting 67-68-67-67 to finish just one off the tournament scoring record at -15.
“I did have a lead, but obviously this course, this challenging course, you never know what's going to happen, so I was able to focus until the last putt,” said Hataoka.
“My goal set for today was 15-under, and I was playing good the first nine holes. My plan was to birdie as much as possible on the first nine holes, and I feel like I was able to do that. So that helped me a lot.”
Hataoka started out of the gate with a birdie on the opening hole and posted two more on Nos. 4 and 5. After making a crucial bogey putt on 6 to keep her momentum afloat, she rebounded with a birdie on the next hole, eventually making the turn with a five-shot lead over playing partner and closest competitor, Hannah Green. A string of pars followed until her eagle on No. 15, which had her tied for the tournament 72-hole record.
“That eagle really helped me kind of relax a little bit, kind of feel like -- you know, I feel like I was putting really good today,” said Hataoka. Despite a closing bogey after finding the bunker on No. 18, Hataoka walked off to a roar of applause and the young superstar had a smile plastered on her face. And considering she missed the cut last week in Hawaii at the LOTTE Championship, Nasa compared her win recent RBC Heritage winner, Jordan Spieth.
“I don't know if I can compare this, but on the PGA Tour, Jordan Spieth missed the cut at the Masters and then won Heritage,” said Hataoka. “So you never know what's going to happen in golf, so I think that was something that boosted my confidence.”
Second-place finisher Green had a mountain to climb when starting on Sunday, but battled through, and pulled together a three-under 68 after carding four birdies and a bogey. It was her best performance ever at Wilshire – she also came close to a win in 2021, ultimately finishing in a tie for third.
“We [Australians] don't typically play on Bermuda a whole lot, but with the raised greens and putting off greens and hitting hybrids and stuff like that, it's pretty similar to what we have to do in Australia,” said Green of her impressive play in Los Angeles.
“So I think that's why I feel so comfortable here. I also have great housing, stay with them every year, and always eat really good food.”
Major champions Inbee Park and Minjee Lee along with LPGA Tour winner Madelene Sagstrom finished in a tie for third at seven-under, with four Koreans in a tie for sixth at six-under: rookie Hye Jin Choi, Sei Young Kim, Chella Choi and Haeji Kang. Four players tied for tenth, including Lilia Vu, the former UCLA Bruin who earned her second top-10 result of the 2022 season and of her career.