Nasa Hataoka overcame the pressure of competing in front of thousands of her home-country fans to seal a win at the TOTO Japan Classic by two shots.
Hataoka carded a 5-under par 67 in the final round to claim her second LPGA victory of the year.
Starting the day four shots behind Minjee Lee, Hataoka made a charge up the leaderboard with an opening nine of 32 in Sunday's round, but we did see a glimpse of a wobble at the turn. After back-to-back bogeys at 11 and 12, Hataoka steadied the ship with a par at 13, then played the remaining few holes without a blemish, canning her birdie putt at the last to seal the win.
The nineteen-year-old recorded a tournament score of 14-under, two shots ahead of Spain's Carlota Ciganda and Momoko Ueda and Saki Nagamine, both also from Japan. Rolex Rookie of the Year, Jin Young Ko, and Ji-Hee Lee tied at 11-under, closely followed by Amy Yang at 10-under. After a round that consisted of three bogeys, two doubles and just one birdie, Minjee Lee carded a disappointing 78 in the final round. She slipped down the leaderboard to tie in 15th spot at 7-under alongside England's Charley Hull.
Hataoka got off to a slow start this season, with no top-10 finishes in any of her first seven tournaments. Since then though, the Japanese teen has well and truly put her foot on the gas. Aside from being one of this year's highest money earners, Hataoka has had 10 top-10 finishes, including two wins, in her last 16 tournaments, she has one of the best scoring averages on tour and she's in the top-5 for the Rolex Player of the Year points and the Race to the CME Globe.
With just a handful of tournaments left until the end of the season, Hataoka has proved again this weekend that she is certainly someone to watch...
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