Minjee Lee and Nasa Hataoka Tied for Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G 36-Hole Lead
ROGERS, Ark. – With one day left at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G, LPGA Tour winners Minjee Lee and Nasa Hataoka are tied atop the leaderboard at -12 at Pinnacle Country Club. Lee carded her career-low score with a second-round 63, which included seven birdies in her first 10 holes.
“I was seeing really good lines, like the breaks on those putts, so I could really trust that I had the right line to have the right speed,” said Lee, who is the only player to go bogey-free through the first two rounds. “I was just stroking it nice and it was really nice to see it go in. Just trying to ride momentum.”
Lee said that her strategy for the final day will be taking advantage of scorable conditions.
“It’s pretty soft so you can be pretty aggressive at the pins. As long as your putter is hot, I think you’re going to have a chance,” said Lee, who with a victory would be the first Australian since Hannah Green in 2019 to have a multiple-win season. “Just be aggressive and play to the best that I have.”
Hataoka’s first two days were highlighted by aces on No. 11 on Friday and No. 6 on Saturday, becoming only the fifth player in Tour history to make two holes-in-one in a single event. She also tied her second-best 36-hole score, 130, which she last recorded in her Marathon LPGA Classic victory earlier this year. Not far behind the leaders is Eun-Hee Ji, who sits in solo third at -11 after shooting 63-68 in the first two rounds. Ji, who is looking for her sixth-career win, made five birdies to two bogeys on Saturday, but said she’ll focus on the success from her first round as she prepares for the final day.
“I been hitting really well with my irons and driver pretty well, so that’s why I think I hit it pretty well; easy to make some birdie out there,” said Ji, who carded her second bogey-free round of 2021 on day one. “Putted pretty well on first round, but today it was pretty well on first half, but I didn’t make a lot of birdie on back nine. Little bit of struggle with the putting on the back nine, but sometimes doing that.”
Major champions Jeongeun Lee6 and Ariya Jutanugarn are tied for fourth at -10. Lee6 recorded her lowest 18 holes, an 8-under 63, since a second-round 61 at the Amundi Evian Championship.
Jutanugarn, who recorded two eagles on Saturday on Nos. 7 and 18, said she’ll work on not getting too ahead of herself thinking about a potential third victory of the season in Rogers.
“When I got to this week, I have no expectation at all because how I play last week,” said Jutanugarn, who came off a missed cut at the Cambia Portland Classic. “I feel I just want to make sure I have feeling like better with my 3-wood, with my irons, and everything. So when you have no expectation, it’s kind of you go out and have so much fun, play with your partner and with your caddie. Just go out and have fun.”
Jennifer Kupcho, Sarah Burnham and LPGA Tour winner Pajaree Anannarukarn are tied for sixth at -9. Ten players, including Rolex Rankings No. 2 Jin Young Ko and defending champion Austin Ernst, sit in a tie for ninth at -8. University of Arkansas alumae Maria Fassi and Stacy Lewis lead the Razorbacks contingent in a tie for 19th at -7. Jillian Hollis withdrew during the second round due to injury and 87 players made the cut of 1-under par.