CHIBA – Nasa Hataoka missed out on a third consecutive title at the Japan Women’s Open Championship after finishing runner-up to South Korea’s Ryu So Yeon on Sunday.
Hataoka, who started the final round at the Chiba Country Club two strokes off the pace, carded four birdies for a 4-under-par 68 and a 12-under 276 total, failing in her bid to become the second woman to complete a three-peat in the 140 million yen ($1.2 million) event.
Overnight co-leader Ryu, a two-time U.S. LPGA major winner ranked fourth in the world, shot a bogey-free 67 for a three-stroke victory, earning her first win on the Japan LPGA Tour.
Hataoka made history with both of her Japan Women’s Open Championship victories. She became the first amateur to win in 2016, and only the second golfer and first in 40 years to defend the title last year.
The consecutive titles put her alongside Hisako Higuchi, who won the event four times running from 1968 to 1971, and again back-to-back in 1976 and 1977.
The 19-year-old Hataoka picked up her first LPGA title in June at the NW Arkansas Championship on her second season on the U.S. tour. She tied for second at the Women’s PGA Championship in July in an attempt to join Higuchi, who won the event in 1977, as the only other Japanese golfer to win a major.