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Nasa Hataoka slips to four strokes back at Evian Championship

AP, Kyodo

Nasa Hataoka dropped four strokes off the lead after carding an even-par 71 in Friday’s second round of the Evian Championship, the fifth and final major of the LPGA season.

Hataoka shot two birdies and two bogeys at the Evian Resort Golf Club to land in a five-way tie for 16th place. Four golfers ranked outside the world top 50 are tied for the lead.

Puerto Rico’s No. Maria Torres maintained her overnight lead, while Amy Olson and Mo Martin of the U.S. also sat at 8-under. Lee Mi-hyang of South Korea shot a 66 to join the leaders.

World No. 15 Hataoka recorded two birdies on Nos. 1 and 6, but closed her front nine with a bogey on the par-5 No. 9. She struggled to convert her chances on the back nine, bogeying No. 12.

“My shots weren’t stable so I couldn’t make use of the chances I had,” she said. “The tournament is only halfway done. I can’t be reassured even though I made the cut.

“I’m still four shots off the lead, so I want to do better.”

The 19-year-old Hataoka is competing for her second LPGA trophy and first major victory. Hisako Higuchi is the only Japanese golfer to win a major, accomplishing the feat at the 1977 Women’s PGA Championship.

Ayako Uehara and Sakura Yokomine missed the cut after finishing 5-over and 8-over, respectively.

Top-ranked, two-time major winner Park Sung-yun has the weekend off after missing the cut.

Torres, the first Puerto Rican to earn an LPGA Tour card, shot a 2-under 69.

“It’s something new and it’s exciting (to lead),” said the 23-year-old Torres, who is ranked No. 184. She missed the cut at 10- over in her only previous major, the Women’s PGA Championship won in July by the South Korean world No. 1.

Park (71) started and finished play Friday at 6 over and missed the cut by three shots.

Olson had seven birdies and secured a share of the lead with an 18-foot par-saving putt on the 18th.

“That was huge,” said the 26-year-old North Dakota native, whose career-best finish in a major is tied for ninth at the ANA Inspiration this season. “Seeing it drop, that’s a lot of confidence going into tomorrow.”

Olson’s working week in France meant she needed a replacement to bake cookies for the Indiana State linebackers coached by her husband, Grant. The Sycamores play Saturday at Eastern Illinois.

“The head coach’s wife made them for the linebackers this week,” Olson said. “She got me covered.”

Lee made an eagle on her final hole, the par-5 ninth, to be the highest ranked co-leader, at No. 59. The South Korean’s two career LPGA wins are more than the other three combined, though Martin won the 2014 Women’s British Open.

One shot back, Carlota Ciganda of Spain carded 70 to follow a 65 that only Torres equaled Thursday.

A seven-woman group on 6 under included Georgia Hall (68), last month’s Women’s British Open champion, plus former major winners Brooke Henderson (69) and So Yeon-ryu (69).

Austin Ernst (70) is also two shots back, completing her round minutes before Hurricane Florence made landfall close to her home state of South Carolina.