Nasa Hataoka becomes first amateur to win Japan LPGA Major
Nasa Hataoka during 2016 U.S. Women's Amateur
NASUKARASUYAMA, Japan (October 2, 2016) -- On Sunday Nasa Hataoka became the first amateur and youngest player to win a major Japan LPGA Tour event. Hataoka, 17-years-old, began the final round of the Japan Women’s Open Golf Championship four-strokes behind but was able to rally with a final round 3-under 68. Hataoka finished 4-under and one shot in front of runner-up Kotone Hori.
The 2016 U.S. Women's Amateur quarterfinalist made the turn with an even-par 36 before surging on the back nine. Hataoka's run began with a 10th hole birde and continued with consecutive birdies on the 12th and 13th holes to reach 3-under. A 16th hole bogey did halt the momentum briefly, however following a par on No. 17 the 24th ranked amateur in the world rolled in the winning birdie on the 18th.
“It’s unbelievable. I’m so happy,” Hataoka, the two-time IMG World Junior Championship defending said. “I’ve learned a lot at the (amateur) Japan national team training, and on how to tackle courses, and I could show them today.”
Hataoka began the day in fifth place at even-par following rounds of 70-72-70. With the win she overtook Ai Miyazato as the youngest player to win a Japan LPGA Tour major. Miyazato was 20-years-old win she claimed victory in 2005.
-The Japan Times contributed to this story