WILLIAMSBURG, VIRGINIA – Nasa Hataoka missed out on her first career LPGA title when Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn outlasted her in a two-hole playoff at the rain-shortened Kingsmill Championship on Sunday.
After carding a 67 in the third and final round to finish with a 14-under 199 total at Kingsmill Resort, Hataoka went to extra holes with Jutanugarn and South Korea’s Chun In-gee, who have both won majors on the women’s tour.
Chun, the first and second-round leader, was eliminated on the first playoff hole.
With a birdie on the 18th, Jutanugarn secured the $195,000 winner’s check, leaving Hataoka, who could only manage par, to wonder what could have been.
“It was my first playoff and I was half-excited and half-nervous. I think I was able to do my best. I went aggressively with my shots. I focused on every swing,” the 19-year-old Hataoka said after a round with four birdies and no bogeys.
“I was so close (to my first title). But this is the result of my all-out effort so I have no regrets.”
For Jutanugarn, the event was her first win of the 2018 season and eighth of her career, setting her up well for the upcoming U.S. Women’s Open, which begins May 31.
“I’m really happy, not because I won the tournament, but because I think my game has been improving. I’m really proud of myself because I really committed to every shot,” said Jutanugarn, who also won the Kingsmill title in 2016.
With a third-round 69, Japan’s other entrant, Ayako Uehara, dragged herself into a seven-way tie for 10th at 8-under. Her third sub-70 round of the tournament ensured she would finish with her second top-10 result of the season.
“I still have a bit to work on but I’m playing with a good feel. There were a lot of shots I’m happy with. I’ll turn my attention to the next event,” Uehara said after carding a three-birdie, one-bogey third round.
For Hataoka, there were lessons to be learned, particularly about performing in the biggest moments.
“The closer I got to the green (in the playoff) the more nervous I got. My hands were shaking as I placed the ball down (to putt),” Hataoka lamented.
“There’s still a lot of events left (in the season) so I hope to carry this experience over to the next one.”