LOS ANGELES — Nasa Hataoka ran away with the DIO Implant LA Open on Sunday at Wilshire Country Club to open the LPGA Tour's two-week run in the Los Angeles area.
Four strokes ahead entering the round after Jin Young Ko's late meltdown Saturday, Hataoka closed with a 4-under 67 for a five-stroke victory over Hannah Green.
“I did have a lead, but obviously this course, this challenging course, you never know what’s going to happen,” Hataoka said. “I was able to focus until the last putt.”
Hataoka finished at 15-under 269, a stroke off the tournament record set last year by Brooke Henderson. The 23-year-old Japanese player won her sixth LPGA Tour title a week after missing the cut in the windy LOTTE Championship in Hawaii with rounds of 75 and 77.
“I don’t know if I can compare this, but on the PGA Tour, Jordan Spieth missed the cut at the Masters and then won Heritage,” Hataoka said. “So you never know what’s going to happen in golf.”
The Palos Verdes Championship begins Thursday at Palos Verdes Estates.
After seven straight pars, Hataoka put the tournament away on the par-4 15th when she raced in a 35-foot eagle putt to open a six-stroke lead.
“That eagle really helped me kind of relax a little bit, kind of feel like I was putting really good today,” Hataoka said.
Hataoka played the first seven holes in 3 under with four birdies and a bogey. She was the only player in the field to shoot in the 60s all four days, opening with rounds of 67, 68 and 67.
“To be honest, the first day I wasn’t feeling good with my iron game, but the seventh hole I had something that clicked inside me, so that really helped me through all week,” Hataoka said. “Putting-wise, poa annua greens are really difficult to play, but my experience on this type of green helped me a lot.”
Green finished with a 68.
“Definitely, really happy with how things are trending,” the Australian said. “It was nice to be a bit more consistent. Last week I got off to a great start and then just couldn’t maintain it in Hawaii. So, I feel like once I get the putter hot, I’m pretty excited to see what’s to come.”
Madelene Sagstrom (66) was 7 under with 2019 winner Minjee Lee (68) and Hall of Famer Inbee Park (70).
“The greens are just really tough,” Park said. “I wasn’t able to make too many putts today, but I was able to get a few good up-and-downs. So, happy with the round. It was steady, but it was definitely tricky out there.”
The top-ranked Ko, tied for lead with Hataoka with three holes left Saturday before a bogey-quadruple bogey-birdie finish left her five strokes back, had a 75 to tie for 21st at 2 under.
On the par-4 16th Saturday, she failed twice to get the ball out of the deep barranca en route to the 8. On Sunday, she had a double bogey on the par-3 seventh and bogeyed the final two holes.