OTSU, SHIGA PREF. - Teenager Nasa Hataoka shot a dazzling five-under 67 to win the Japan Classic by two strokes on Sunday, her second LPGA Tour triumph this season.
Hataoka became the first home player in seven years to win the Japan title, firing seven birdies and two bogies on the final day for a three-day total of 14-under 202 at Seta Golf Club.
“I’m glad to win here in Japan,” Hataoka said before a big crowd, adding that she had faced “a challenge” after back-to-back bogeys at the 11th and 12th.
The diminutive 19-year-old, who is just 1.58 meters (5ft 2in) tall, sank further birdies at the par-four 14th and par-five last hole to seal the victory.
“I was able to play calmly from the 13th hole,” a smiling Hataoka said as she kissed the winner’s trophy.
The U.S. tour’s 2017 rookie of the year, Hataoka won her maiden championship in June at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, becoming the 14th Japanese player to win an LPGA title by finishing 54 holes at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She shot a 21-under 192, the lowest score in tournament history.
Local favorite Momoko Ueda, who won the Japan Classic in 2011, shot five birdies with a bogey for a 68 to share second place with Saki Nagamine and Spain’s Carlota Ciganda.
China’s Feng Shanshan, the two-time defending champion, shot 72 to tie for 30th, and newly-crowned world number one Ariya Jutanugarn tied at 19th after carding a 69.
The event at Otsu in central Japan’s Shiga Prefecture is jointly-sponsored by the LPGAs of both Japan and the United States.