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Nasa Hataoka finishes 16th at Evian Championship; Angela Stanford earns first major title

Kyodo

Nasa Hataoka fell further down the leaderboard Sunday and finished at 6-under-par 278, six strokes behind Evian Championship winner Angela Stanford of the United States.

Hataoka shot two birdies, a bogey, and a double bogey for a 1-over in the final round at the Evian Resort Golf Club, and finished in a six-way tie for 16th place in the final major of the LPGA season

“My shots were blurry and my rhythm was bad. It’s really difficult to set up,” Hataoka said. “But still, I have to attack the pin. I’ll do my best to make it happen.”

Hataoka’s disappointing finish postponed her hopes of joining 1977 Women’s PGA Championship winner Hisako Higuchi as the only other Japanese golfer to win a major on either the men’s or women’s tour.

The 19-year-old was also looking for a second LPGA title following her first win on the tour at the NW Arkansas Championship in June. She tied for second at this year’s Women’s PGA Championship after a three-person playoff, her best finish at a major to date.

The 40-year-old Stanford, who had not won on tour since 2012, lifted her first major championship trophy and earned her sixth career victory.

She shot a final-round 68 and finished at 12-under 272, beating fellow Americans Austin Ernst, Mo Martin and Amy Olson, along with South Korea’s Kim Sei-young, by one stroke.

The victory made up for Stanford’s near-miss at the 2003 U.S. Women’s Open, where she finished runnerup after a three-person playoff, her previous best finish.

“You know, I remember my first time being in contention (in a major) was in 2003 at the (U.S. Women’s) Open,” Stanford said. “I was in a playoff. I didn’t know at the time how close I was because it was only my third year and I had no idea what I was doing, to be perfectly honest.”

Stanford, who turns 41 in November, eagled the par-5 15th hole to lead at 13-under, but followed up with a disastrous double bogey.

“As the years go on and you have all the near misses you think, ‘Wow, am I ever going to get that close again?’ I had that moment on the 16th tee today,” Stanford said.

“Okay, you know, here you are again. This is as close as you’ve been in I don’t know how long. So now what? We saw what happened.”

With victory in reach, Stanford stayed calm and birdied No. 17 to keep alive the United States’ streak of winning at least one major every year since 2013, when the Evian Championship became the fifth major.