CHASKA, MINNESOTA – A tournament-low final-day 65 from Nasa Hataoka rocketed her up the leaderboard Sunday, but it proved too little, too late as Australian Hannah Green won the Women’s PGA Championship title.
Hataoka fired seven birdies in a bogey-free round at Hazeltine National Golf Club to land in a 2-under six-way tie for 14th, her 40-place Sunday improvement somewhat offsetting a disappointing first three days.
Green’s even-par final round was just enough to secure the 22-year-old her first major and first LPGA title at 9-under, one shot in front of South Korea’s defending champion Park Sung Hyun.
“I’m glad I was finally able to play my brand of golf,” Hataoka said after sinking a 10-meter birdie on her final hole.
“My body and my swing were in good shape throughout the round, and I put my heart into an all-out attack. (From here on) I want to work on being able to make adjustments right away.”
The three-time LPGA Tour winner is still looking to become the second Japanese to win a major after Hisako Higuchi, who won the LPGA Championship in 1977.
After falling to 5-over on Saturday, Hataoka did not bother with the driving range, preferring instead to head to the nearby Mall of America to scream out her frustrations on the giant shopping mall’s rollercoasters.
“I just let everything out,” she said.
Though out of the hunt for the tournament title, the scream therapy apparently worked.
Starting on the back nine due to expected inclement weather, the young Japanese birdied her second hole and then five of nine from the 15th onward to scrape her way into over $50,000 in prize money.
Behind Green and Park, England’s Mel Reid closed with a 66 to snag third alongside American Nelly Korda at 6-under. Sakura Yokomine finished 60th at 7-over, failing to break par on any of the four days.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5