CARLSBAD, CALIFORNIA – Nasa Hataoka rocketed into second place at the Kia Classic after shooting an 8-under-par 64 in Saturday’s third round to land one stroke off the pace.
Hataoka shot eight birdies under optimal conditions in the bogey-free round and sits at a 13-under 203. Seven-time major winner Park Inbee of South Korea seized the lead on Day 3 with her second-straight 67.
“I made almost every putt, it was a really good round. My shots were also 100 percent,” Hataoka said. “I’m nervous about the last round but I want to aim for a 5- or 6-under.”
The 20-year-old Hataoka is seeking her third title on the LPGA Tour after winning last year’s Walmart NW Arkansas Championship and Toto Japan Classic.
Thailand’s Thidapa Suwannapura shot a 70 and dropped to 12-under in third.
Among the other Japanese golfers at Aviara Golf Club, Harukyo Nomura rebounded from second-round putting woes and shot a 68 to improve to 18th at 6-under.
“It was great to get three straight birdies,” said Nomura, who shot six birdies against two bogeys for the day. “I don’t like these greens very much, but I think I’ll be okay (in Sunday’s final round) if I read my lines carefully.”
After both carded 74s, Ayako Uehara is even after three rounds while Sakura Yokomine settled for 1-over.
The Kia Classic is the final event before next month’s ANA Inspiration, the first women’s major of the year.