Newtown Square, Pennsylvania – World No. 5 Nasa Hataoka said Wednesday she is trying to rid her mind of pressure as she prepares to chase her first major title at this week’s Women’s PGA Championship.
The 21-year-old will make her fourth straight appearance at the event, which takes place this year at Aronimink Golf Club, near Philadelphia, on Oct. 8-11. She will be joined in Pennsylvania by three of her countrywomen — Hinako Shibuno, Yui Kawamoto and Harukyo Nomura.
“I know I’m nearing a major victory, but I don’t want to think about it too much when I play,” Hataoka said in an online press conference.
At the 2018 Women’s PGA Championship, Hataoka came from nine shots back in the final round to join Park Sung-hyun and Ryu So-yeon in a three-way playoff, but was outlasted by Park.
After her practice round Wednesday, Hataoka, who has won three LPGA titles, said creativity around the greens will be a factor at Aronimink.
“The greens are pretty big so distance control on long putts is crucial,” she said.
Shibuno, the 2019 Women’s British Open champion, will be competing in her fourth and final tournament in the U.S. since leaving Japan in August.
The best result of Shibuno’s U.S. jaunt so far was a tie for 24th at the Portland Classic in September.
“It’s over 6,500 yards and plays to a par of 70,” Shibuno said of the 6,577-yard course, which was originally designed by famous golf architect Donald Ross to test players on their long iron play.
“There’s even a hole where you have to use a 5-wood to hit the second shot. This is the hardest course I’ll be playing in the U.S. Not even comparable to the others,” she said.
The Women’s PGA Championship was originally scheduled to be played in the last weekend of June but was postponed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
It is the third major championship to take place during this year’s LPGA Tour.