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Minjee Lee falters as Hataoka wins second LPGA Tour title

Lee struggles to final round 78 (Photo: Paul Shire)
Japanese players finished in three of the first four placings at the LPGA Tour’s Toto Japan Classic in Shiga in Japan, Nasa Hataoka winning her second title of the year in what has been a breakthrough season for the Japanese star.

Hataoka defeated Momoka Ueda, Saki Nakamine and Spain’s Carlotta Ciganda by two shots but the talking point of the day was the demise of Australia’s Minjee Lee who took a three shot lead into the final day only to eventually finish tied for 15th after dropping six shots in her opening eight holes.

Hataoka has moved to 5th on the money list in 2018 with earnings of US$1.4 million. Compared to her rookie season in 2017 this has been an amazing turnaround. Last year she earned just US37,000.

Lee, whose form for much of the year gave little indication such a disaster was even possible, struggled herself to explain the reason for the horror start.  

“Well, I had a really bad front nine. I had two doubles in a row,” said Lee when asked about her struggles.

“Yeah, it was just, I don't know, maybe a lot of brain farts in a row. But I didn't really hit -- I didn't hit the shots that I wanted very solid, so obviously it didn't go the way I wanted.”

Lee was however trying to put a positive spin on things. “But yeah, I mean, I've had a really good run in the Asia Swing, so yeah, it's a shame I finished today like this, but I still have CME left, so looking forward to that.

“Those two rounds, they were really, really good. One bad round doesn't define how well you played. So yeah, I mean, obviously, up and down for the tournament, but yeah, definitely taking away some positives.”

Sarah Jane Smith was the only other Australian in the field and finished 65th.





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