• Kyodo


Nasa Hataoka carded a 7-under 281 total to finish in seventh place after Sunday’s final round of the inaugural LPGA Mediheal Championship won by New Zealand’s Lydia Ko.

Hataoka shot five birdies over two bogeys for a 3-under 69 on the last day at Lake Merced Golf Club, landing the 19-year-old rookie in a four-way tie for seventh and her best result on the tour to date.

“It’s disappointing that I couldn’t do better on the back nine. I was thinking that I had to go all out today, so I think I started out well,” Hataoka said.

Hataoka opened with two straight birdies on the front nine, but cancelled out two birdies with bogeys on the last nine holes. She had a similar issue on Saturday, when she carded an even round after four bogeys on the back nine.

“I was finally able to finish in the top ten. But since I was close to the top (today), today’s back nine is still an issue for me,” she said.

After shooting a four-day total of 12-under 276, Ko bested Australia’s Minjee Lee in a one-hole playoff, dropping a 3-foot eagle putt to earn her third victory at Lake Merced and first title since 2016.

“It’s crazy, because I was 3-over for the day at one stage today and I said ‘Hey, you just got to focus and you never know what’s going to happen,’ ” Ko said, according to LPGA.com.

“I was able to put my game together on the back nine and when that putt dropped, oh my gosh.”

Ayako Uehara, who was three shots off the pace after the first round, finished 43rd with a 3-under 291.

“It was really stressful golf. I was in a lot of good spots, but it was really stressful since it didn’t lead to any kind of score at all,” Uehara said.

The inaugural tournament marked a return to Lake Merced, replacing the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic held from 2014 to 2016. Ko won the tournament in its first two years, and Haru Nomura claimed the title in the final year.

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