TOKYO (Reuters) - Teenager Nasa Hataoka picked up two birdies over her last five holes to become the first local winner of the LPGA’s Japan Classic for seven years on Sunday.
The 19-year-old’s final round five-under-par 67 proved enough for a two-stroke victory over a group of three players including compatriot and twice former winner Momoko Ueda.
Ueda, the 2007 and 2011 champion, finished on 12-under 204 for the tournament along with Spain’s Carlota Ciganda and another Japanese player in Saki Nagamine after all three shot 68s. Australia’s Minjee Lee, who started the final round with a three-shot lead after an eight-under 64 on Saturday, endured a nightmare of a day at the Seta Golf Club.
The world number five shot three bogeys and two double bogeys on her front nine and finished with a 78 for share of 15th.
Hataoka took full advantage to claim her second title in her second season on the tour after an earlier win at the Arkansas Championship, mixing seven birdies with a couple of bogeys to claim the victory.
China’s Shanshan Feng, champion for the last two years, finished with a share of 30th after an even par 72 left her 10 shots behind Hataoka.
Feng and compatriot rookie Yu Liu, who finished tied for 15th with Lee, withdrew from last week’s Swinging Skirts Taiwan Championship after being told they should not play by someone “high up” in China, sources familiar with the situation told Reuters.
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney at Sydney, editing by Amlan Chakraborty