The 19-year old not only broke through for her maiden win at the NW Arkansas Championship she did it in style winning by a massive six shots over American Austin Ernst with another two shots back to a large group in a share of 3rd place including Australia’s Minjee Lee, Ryan O’Toole, Sandra Gal, Ally McDonald, Brittany Altomare and Lexi Thompson.
Hataoka played her rookie season on the LPGA Tour last year and struggled, being forced to return to the LPGA Tour School late last year. She displayed the benefit of a year at the game’s highest level however and was medallist at the Q School. This year she has put herself in the mix on many occasions, recording four top tens in her previous five starts to this week.
He final round of 63 today was near flawless, edging clear of a high-class field after sharing the lead with Australia’s Minjee Lee heading into the final round.
Her nearest challengers through 36 holes of the 54 hole event, Lee and Lexi Thompson were unable to keep pace and Hataoka drew clear with four birdies over he opening 9 holes and sealed he deal with a closing 9 of 31 to win as she liked.
Hataoka, who has also won events on the Japan LPGA Tour including a victory at the Japan Women’s Open Championship, will continue her advance up the Rolex World Ranking from her current 30th place.
Lee led the Australians but after sharing the lead with Hataoka into the final round two early bogeys had her on the back foot and she was unable to recover to any real extent, an even par round having her finish in the share of 3rd place.
It was yet another good week for the West Australian however and she now tackles the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the third major of the year for the female game.
Rebecca Artis was the next best of the Australians when she recorded the best finish of her rookie season to finish 27th, three rounds in the 60’s an encouraging boost for the Gold Coast based New South Welshwoman.
Sarah Jane Smith was 53rd and Katherine Kirk 61st.
New Zealander Lydia ko continued her recent improvement to finish tied for 9th.
The LPGA Tour now moves to Kildeer in Illinois for the aforementioned KPMG Women’s PGA Championship carrying prizemoney of US$3.65 million.
RULES: BOUNDARY FENCE ON A GOLF COURSE
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