COURTESY DIO IMPLANT LA OPEN
After sleeping on a four-stroke lead heading into the final day at the DIO Implant L.A. Open, Nasa Hataoka could see a victory in sight, but still knew it was going to take a solid round of golf to bring the title home.
And by day’s end, the City of Stars added the 23-year-old to a list of champions in the shadow of the Hollywood Sign at Wilshire Country Club as Hastaoka nabbed her sixth Tour win of her career. 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.”
Major champions Inbee Park and Minjee Lee along with LPGA Tour winner Madelene Sagstrom finished in a tie for third at -7, with four Koreans in a tie for sixth at -6: rookie Hye Jin Choi, Sei Young Kim, Chella Choi and Haeji Kang.