Galloway, New Jersey – Nasa Hataoka, who was seeking her fourth career LPGA victory, finished fourth at the ShopRite LPGA Classic on Sunday as England’s Mel Reid captured her first tour title.
Hataoka hit four bogeys and six birdies to finish the day at 2-under-par 69 and the four-day event with a 14-under total, five shots behind Reid. Americans Jennifer Kupcho and Jennifer Song were second and third with 267 and 268, respectively.
“I lost my rhythm and even though my score said 2-under it felt more like 5-over,” Hataoka said.
“If I can’t hit more fairways off the tee I don’t have a chance. I didn’t play well but I had two good shots in the final hole,” she said.
The 21-year-old Hataoka has previously won the 2018 Northwest Arkansas Championship, 2018 Toto Japan Classic and the 2019 Kia Classic.
The ShopRite LPGA Classic was held at Seaview Hotel and Golf Club in Galloway, New Jersey, without fans in attendance because of the coronavirus pandemic. The 72-hole event featured six Japanese players, two of whom did not make the cut.
Elsewhere for Japan, Hinako Shibuno finished at 6-under, Yui Kawamoto finished at 4-under and Ayako Uehara was 1-under for the tournament.
In her first start since losing the final-round lead in Portland, Reid seized control with four birdies in a five-hole stretch around the turn.
“I wanted to put things right from Portland,” said Reid, who has six Ladies European Tour titles. “Yeah, just felt like I handled things a lot better today than I did the final round in Portland, so just absolutely made up to be holding the trophy.”
Reid’s only mistake on the back nine was a bogey on the par-3 17th, which cut her four-shot lead in half when Kupcho and Song each made birdie.
From the right rough on the par-5 closing hole, Reid lashed a 6-iron knowing that short of the green would be fine with a two-shot lead and the other two players also in the rough. The ball came out hot and ran onto the edge of the green, effectively assuring victory.
Reid, a promising British amateur who played in the 2006 Curtis Cup and was the low amateur at the 2007 Women’s British Open, had her personal life derailed in 2012 when her mother was killed in a car crash near Munich while driving to watch her play a Ladies European Tour event.
She eventually got back on track, and now she believes she can achieve a lot more.
“It just goes to show, doesn’t it? No matter what life throws at you it depends how you handle it,” Reid said. “I made a huge sacrifice moving to America, leaving my comfort zone, my friends and my family, and it’s paid off. … No matter what, people can’t take away the fact that I’m an LPGA winner against a world class field. It just goes to show you just got to keep going.
“Things will get tough. I will have tough years as well ahead of me,” she said. “As long as you just keep your head down and doing the right things, good things will happen to good people. Just great to finally get it done.”