Nasa Hataoka Earns Second Win of 2021 at Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G
ROGERS, Ark. – After a final-round 67, Nasa Hataoka earned her second title of the season at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G on Sunday. Off in the morning with 36-hole co-leader Minjee Lee and Eun-Hee Ji, Hataoka hung on for her fifth-career LPGA Tour victory and second win in Rogers, Ark., after becoming a Rolex First-Time Winner in 2018 at Pinnacle Country Club.
“My first win being here and of course the two holes-in-one, it kind of feels like it’s my power spot,” said Hataoka, who also set the tournament scoring record back in 2018.
Hataoka carded birdies on her first two holes, and notched three more at Nos. 4, 7 and 11. When she took her approach over the green on 13, Hataoka saved bogey after putting a 50-foot par putt close to the pin. Holding strong with pars until the end, the 22-year-old passed Hiromi Kobayashi for third-most victories by a Japanese player, trailing Ayako Okamoto (17) and Ai Miyazato (9).
“It was pretty tight, very stressful because the other players were so close to me. It was pretty stressful for me, yeah,” said Hataoka. “The grass type, it matches what I was doing when I was young, and so I’m able to kind of know how it reacts, so that kind of helps me. And so I like this course.”
Lee and Ji tied for second at -15. Lee struggled on the front nine, carding two birdies and two bogeys to make the turn four strokes behind Hataoka. The Australian turned it around quick, notching three more birdies to earn her fifth top-five performance of the season. Ji’s round was highlighted by an eagle on No. 14, which put her back in contention, followed by a memorable birdie on the closing hole.
“Actually, at last hole [my ball was] in the [greenside] bunker. It was in a really bad spot for that pin. I was thinking like, ‘Oh, back bunker, oh, I’m in really bad spot. How can I stop the ball from there?’ I’m like, maybe I can hit it harder from out of there because there is no way out of bunker. I never tried before,” said Ji, whose tie for second becomes her season-best result.
Major champions Yuka Saso and Danielle Kang both recorded 6-under 65s to finish in a tie for fourth at -14. Saso, who made her first career appearance in Arkansas after a month-long break, ended her weekend on a high note with eagles on Nos. 7 and 18.
“I had probably like 230 [yards] to the flag [on No. 7], help wind. Had 5-wood probably like 50 or 60 feet putt, left to right. Pretty long putt. It was pretty good, and went in. Maybe lucky,” said Saso. “On 18 I got to like 210-215 to the flag, into. I had a 5-wood again, and actually after I hit I said, ‘Good.’ So I hit pretty good shot and had two eagles today.”
University of Arkansas alumna Stacy Lewis and Rolex Rankings No. 2 Jin Young Ko ended in a tie for sixth at -12. Eight players tied for eighth at -11, including 2017 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G champion So Yeon Ryu, who notched a final-round 62 for the round of the week.
“I had 10 birdies today. You know, was really kind of feeling bad to make that the second hole, because that was three-putt. But it was really, really great to have a super low round. Haven’t done it for a while. And then it’s definitely help me out to gain some confidence,” said Ryu, who originally set the tournament 18-hole scoring record back when she won in 2017. “Today, definitely my second shot was much better, which means I feel like I’m in the right progress. I really want to take this opportunity as gaining my confidence level and then just keep going to enjoy the golf.”
IN THE WINNER’S CIRCLE WITH NASA HATAOKA
Hometown/Resides: Ibaraki, Japan
Birthdate: Jan. 13, 1999; currently 22 years, 8 months and 13 days
Qualified for LPGA Tour: Finished T14 at the 2016 LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament
Turned Professional/Rookie Year: 2016/2017
LPGA TOUR: Fifth career victory
PREVIOUS LPGA TOUR WINS: 2021 Marathon Classic presented by Dana, 2019 Kia Classic, 2018 TOTO Japan Classic, 2018 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G
JLPGA TOUR: Six career victories, including four majors
RACE TO THE CME GLOBE
Hataoka earns 500 points and will move from 18 to 7 in the Race to the CME Globe with 1,692.58 points
Hataoka earns $345,000; she has earned $1,403,159 this season and $4,666,569 in her career
PREVIOUS WALMART NW ARKANSAS CHAMPIONSHIP PRESENTED BY P&G PERFORMANCES
2017 – MC; 2018 – 1st; 2019 – T33; 2020 – T28
2021 LPGA TOUR PERFORMANCE
Seventeen events played, 13 cuts made; $1,403,159 earned; two wins and two additional top-10 finishes
- With her fifth LPGA Tour victory, Hataoka passes Hiromi Kobayashi for third-most victories by a Japanese player, trailing Ayako Okamoto (17) and Ai Miyazato (9)
This is Hataoka’s fifth year on the LPGA Tour; she has five career wins, most recently at the 2021 Marathon Classic presented by Dana (before this victory)
- This is Hataoka’s 17th event of the 2021 LPGA Tour season; her best finish is 1st at the Marathon Classic presented by Dana and Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G
- This is Hataoka’s fifth appearance in the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G; she won in 2018 and has played the weekend four times
- Represented Japan at the 2020 Olympics with a T9 result
- Member of Team Japan at the 2018 International Crown, posting a 2-0-1 record
- Won the 2016, 2017 and 2019 Japan Women’s Open Championship; in 2016 she was the first amateur and the youngest champion to win a major on the JLPGA
- She was named Nasa after the American space program because her mother wanted her to accomplish a lot and dream big
- If she wasn’t a golfer, she would be an astronaut because she wants to go to space
MOTIVATED MINJEE LEARNS FROM STING OF THE MOMENT
She became a first-time major champion in July at the Amundi Evian Championship, but those moments of defeat still sting for Minjee Lee. It’s the competitor in her.
On Sunday in the final round of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G, Lee carded five birdies en route to a 3-under par 68. But it was two bogeys and an approach shot on No. 18 that disrupted her visions of a momentous ending in her seventh appearance at Pinnacle Country Club.
“Overall, I was really solid all three days. I missed a couple birdie opportunities today that I probably should have made,” said Lee, who finished in a tie for second with Eun-Hee Ji. “All day I was thinking about the missed putts I had and going into the back nine I just wanted to get to 16-under. I got to -15, so I was close but in this situation I still did play well. Maybe next time I’ll get on the 18th green in two.”
Lee said it’s these results that motivated her to find a major championship winner’s circle for the first time and that will motivate her to reach greater heights again.
“I think playing under pressure is where I belong, this is where I excel,” Lee said. “Hopefully I have a lot more times that it can bring the best out of me. There is so many more positives than negatives out of this week.”
LEWIS FINISHES STRONG IN RETURN TO ARKANSAS
A bogey-free, 5-under par 66 in the final round of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G left University of Arkansas alumna Stacy Lewis in a tie for sixth at 12-under overall. It was a strong finish to her homecoming week, which began with Lewis simply wanting to “get going in the right direction to finish the year out well” after a month off from LPGA Tour competition.
“I found something this week. Ball striking was so much better, and it was great today with wind picking up,” said Lewis, who secured her seventh top-10 finish in 14 starts at Pinnacle Country Club. “If I can just line up the speed a little bit better on the greens, we’ll be in really good shape.
“Hit it really solid, just never really got the putter going. Today, I made five birdies and three were within about a foot and a half, and one was a chip-in.”
Her performance Sunday comes on the heels of her alma mater’s victory over Texas A&M University at AT&T Stadium on Saturday in the college football ranks. The win might have provided a little inspiration for the 13-time LPGA Tour champion and gave Lewis bragging rights in the household, as her husband Gerrod Chadwell is the head coach for the Aggies women’s golf team.
“That was awesome. I couldn’t rub it in, but when my husband answered the phone last night, I got my daughter [Chesnee] to say, ‘Go Hogs’ right when he answered, so that made my day,” said Lewis. “I was looking on the TVs [around the course yesterday] to try to catch a score, people were telling me scores. I had us winning by at least a touchdown, so I wasn’t too shocked.”
CME GROUP CARES CHALLENGE—SCORE 1 FOR ST. JUDE
The CME Group Cares Challenge is a season-long charitable giving program that turns aces into donations. CME Group donates $20,000 for each hole-in-one made on the LPGA Tour in 2021, with a minimum guaranteed donation of $500,000 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which is leading the way in how the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and life-threatening diseases.
Nasa Hataoka made the 14th and 15th holes-in-one of the 2021 LPGA Tour season at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G. On Friday, she found the bottom of the cup on No. 11 with a 9-iron from 135 yards. Then on Saturday, Hataoka recorded another hole-in-one with a 5-iron from 175 yards at No. 6. The two aces mean a total of $300,000 has been donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital so far in 2021, as 15 holes-in-one have been made through 24 tournaments this season.
The 2020 LPGA Tour season saw 13 aces from 13 different players, while the 2019 campaign had 32 total aces from 31 different competitors for a total of $620,000. That more than covered the average cost of $425,000 needed to treat a pediatric cancer patient.