• KYODO AFP-JIJI

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Nasa Hataoka won for the fourth time on the LPGA Tour and first time in two years after she was declared Marathon LPGA Classic champion when rain washed out Sunday's final round with her six shots clear of the field.

Hataoka carried a six-shot lead over Americans Elizabeth Szokol and Mina Harigae into the fourth round and had led after all three rounds, shooting 61-69-64 for a 19-under 194 total at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio.

Her 19-under total was a 54-hole scoring record for the tournament.

"I was congratulated when I was warming up (for a restart) in the locker room and I thought it was some kind of joke," Hataoka said of an exchange that came 6½ hours after play was suspended by heavy rain.

The 22-year-old Japanese hit two shots before play was suspended at 9:40 a.m. She said she spent the next few hours napping and listening to music while attempting to deal with the pressure of the situation.

"The course maintenance workers got drenched and did what they could. It's too bad we couldn't play 72 holes but I'm really happy that I won."

The LPGA made the decision to cancel the round around 4 p.m. after waiting all day for the weather to improve, saying that finishing the tournament on Monday was not an option due to an unfavorable forecast.

"Course conditions have not improved at the Marathon LPGA and it remains unplayable," a tweet from the LPGA said.

"Finishing the tournament tomorrow is not an option due to an unfavorable forecast. The tournament will be reduced to a 54 hole event with Nasa Hataoka as the winner!"

It would have taken Hataoka's rivals some doing to catch the 22-year-old, who took a commanding six-shot lead into the scheduled final round.

Hataoka, runner up to Yuka Saso in a playoff at the US Women's Open, claimed her first title since the 2019 Kia Classic.

With four LPGA titles, Hataoka is now even with Hiromi Kobayashi in third place on Japan's all-time U.S. LPGA winner list.

Ayako Okamoto is the all-time leader with 17 LPGA career wins, followed by Ai Miyazato with nine.

"I didn't imagine it to end this way. It was huge that I got off to a 61 start on opening day…This win gives me momentum ahead of the Tokyo Olympics," said Hataoka, who will represent Japan at the pandemic-delayed Olympics which are set to begin in less than two weeks.

Germany's Esther Henseleit finished in solo fourth at 12 under and Saso was in a four-way tie for fifth at 11 under.

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