Galloway, New Jersey – Nasa Hataoka birdied two of the last three holes for a 4-under 67 and a one-stroke lead Friday in the Shoprite LPGA Classic.
Hataoka, the 21-year-old Japanese player with three LPGA Tour victories, birdied the par-4 16th and par-5 18th to get to 11-under 131 at Seaview’s Bay Course. She hit her approach to 4 feet on 17, and chipped to 3 feet on 18.
“I wasn’t striking the ball as well as yesterday, but I was able to convert my birdie chances where I wanted to and that was good,” Hataoka said. “Today wasn’t about making long putts. It was more like converting the small chances I had.”
Lee Mi-hyang, tied for the first-round lead with Lauren Stephenson after a 63, was a stroke back with Mel Reid after a 69. Reid shot a 64.
“Still have two days left,” Lee said. “Try to do my best …That’s my goal.”
Celine Boutier (65) and Amy Olson (66) were 9 under. Georgia Hall, the Cambia Portland Classic winner two weeks ago, had her second straight 67 to join Jennifer Song (69), Jennifer Kupcho (65) and Christina Kim (65) at 8 under.
“Obviously, I took that confidence from a couple weeks ago and my game is in good shape,” Hall said. “I just stayed really relaxed and really enjoyed it. So, let’s see what I can do on the weekend.”
Defending champion Lexi Thompson, winless since the June event last year, was 3 under after a 72. Thompson played alongside two-time tournament champions Stacy Lewis and Anna Nordqvist. Lewis was 2 under after her second straight 70, and Nordqvist was another shot back after a 69.
Nelly Korda and Brooke Henderson, paired together three weeks after Mirim Lee beat them in a playoff at the ANA Inspiration, were 4 under after matching rounds of 68 and 70. Mirim Lee missed the cut, shooting 73-72.
Earlier Friday, Korda’s 20-year-old brother, Sebastian, became the youngest American man since 1991 to reach the fourth round at the French Open tennis tournament.
“It’s really cool, actually,” Nelly Korda said. “He finished his match when we were driving over and my heart rate was definitely too elevated going to the golf course. It should not be that elevated. But it was really fun.”
The tournament is being contested at 72 holes for only the second time since it began in 1986. The additional round replaced the pro-am that was canceled because there are no spectators. The major KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is next week at Aronimink outside Philadelphia.