Washington - Japanese teen Nasa Hataoka captured her first
LPGA title in tournament record fashion, firing an eight-under par 63 on Sunday
to win the Northwest Arkansas Championship by six strokes.
The 19-year-old became the 14th Japanese player to win an
LPGA title by finishing 54 holes at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas,
on 21-under par 192, the lowest score in tournament history.
"I was focusing on my game for the entire 18 today. I'm
so happy to win," Hataoka said through a translator. "Winning this
tournament was huge for me."
Hataoka, in her second LPGA campaign, had shared second last
month at Kingsmill in her best prior showing but suffered only one bogey in
American Austin Ernst was second on 198 with a third-place
pack on 200 including Australian Minjee Lee, German Sandra Gal and Americans
Ryann O'Toole, Ally McDonald, Brittany Altomare and Lexi Thompson, who could
have become world number one with a victory.
"I played with Lexi and all the big names and playing
with them was big for me," said Hataoka, who was alongside Thompson in the
Lee and Hataoka had shared the 36-hole lead at 129, but the
Japanese star surged quickly with birdies at the par-3 third, par-5 fifth,
par-5 seventh and par-4 ninth pulling her ahead for good at the turn.
Hataoka added birdies at the par-4 12th, the par-3 15th and
17th and at 18 she dropped her approach inches from the cup and tapped in for a
final birdie to finish off the record romp.
The event was the final tuneup for next week's third women's
major event of the year, the Women's PGA Championship.
Leading scores after Sunday's final round of the LPGA Northwest Arkansas Championship (par 72, USA unless noted):
192 - Nasa Hataoka (JPN) 64-65-63
198 - Austin Ernst 65-68-65
200 - Ryann O'Toole 67-68-65, Sandra Gal (GER) 66-68-66, Ally McDonald 66-67-67, Brittany Altomare 65-68-67, Lexi Thompson 67-64-69, Minjee Lee (AUS) 64-65-71
201 - Kang Hae-ji (KOR) 67-71-73, Ko Jin-young (KOR) 66-70-65, Cristie Kerr 70-65-66, Anna Nordqvist (SWE) 68-67-66, Lydia Ko (NZL) 66-69-66, Mariah Stackhouse 67-66-68
202 - Moriya Jutanugarn (THA) 64-72-66, Lee Mi-rim (KOR) 64-69-69, Celine Boutier (FRA) 66-66-70
203 - Pornanong Phatlum (THA) 60-68-65, Lee Jeong-eun (KOR) 67-69-67, Thidapa Suwannapura (THA) 69-64-70, Lizette Salas 64-69-70
204 - Liu Yu (CHN) 70-68-66, Stacy Lewis 66-72-66, Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong (THA) 66-71-67, Ryu So-yeon (KOR) 67-69-68, Feng Shanshan (CHN) 66-70-68