Culver City Observer -

By Fred Altieri
Sports Reporter 

Hatoaka Wins LA Open at Wilshire CC

Inaugural Palos Verdes Championship Debuts This Week

 

April 28, 2022

Fred Altieri

Nasa Hataoka - 2022 DIO Implant LA Open Champion

Nasa Hataoka tamed the challenging Wilshire Country Club greens with a pair of 67's over the weekend to walk away with a 5-stroke victory at the 2022 DIO Implant LA Open. It was the sixth LGPA Tour victory for the 23-year old Japanese golfer. Hataoka was also the only player to shoot in the 60's for all four rounds in the tournament.

"My goal set for today was 15-under. My plan was to birdie as much as possible on the first nine holes, and I feel like I was able to do that. So that helped me a lot," said Hataoka. "Putting-wise, poana greens are really difficult to play, but my experience on this type of green helped me a lot."

Hataoka had missed the cut the previous week at the LOTTE Championship in Hawaii: "I don't know if I can compare this, but on the PGA Tour, Jordan Spieth missed the cut at the Masters and then won Heritage," said Hataoka. "So you never know what's going to happen in golf, so I think that was something that boosted my confidence." Hataoka moved up to No. 6 in the LPGA World Ranking with the win.

Australian Hannah Green, who finished second at 10-under par, was never able to overcome Hataoka's four birdies on the front nine. Both players were 2-under par through four holes but Hatoaka's birdie on the par-3 7th hole gave her a 6-stroke lead. Her eagle on the par-5 15th hole sealed the tournament. Green has been dialed into Wilshire the past three years, finishing tied for 14th in 2019 before tying for third last year.

"Definitely really happy with how things are trending. It was nice to be a bit more consistent. Last week I got off to a great start and then just couldn't maintain it in Hawaii," said Green. "I guess I've had good results here at Wilshire before. I came tied third so I kind of knew that it was possible to have a good result here."

Green also enjoyed the final round pairing with Nataoka: "I've known Nasa for years. We played amateur golf together. We played Queen Sirikit Cups together. We played a Patsy Hankins Trophy. So, it was really cool to see Nasa. She's obviously a very successful player, but it was really nice to be alongside her winning and just along for the ride, I guess."

Under warm weather conditions and a slight breeze, five players were able to shot 5-under par 66 for the final round: Madelene Sagstrom (tied for 3rd), Hye-Jin Choi (T6), Brittany Altomare and Yuka Saso (both T17), and Xiyu Lin (T27).

Sagstrom: "I was really putting well. I think I told my caddie after probably the 4th hole, I was like, It's one of those days where I just knew I was going to make a lot putts." Sagstrom is also going to playing this week in the Palos Verdes Championship presented by Bank of America, an inaugural event on the Tour this season. It will mark the first time the LPGA has staged back to back events in Los Angeles.

It will be the very first professional tournament at Palos Verdes Golf Club. However, the Club has hosted the Northup Grumman Regional Challenge women's collegiate champion for the past 25 years. Coincidentally, nine former winners of the Northup Grumman event are in this week's field: Rachel Kuehn (2022), Andrea Lee (2019), Lilia Vu (2018), Leona Maguire (2017), Bronte Law (2015), Annie Park (2014), Carlota Ciganda (2011), and Katherine Kirk (2003).

There will be a total 14 alums from USC or UCLA entered at Palos Verdes. USC: Jennifer Chang, Allisen Corpuz, Muni He, Annie Park, Sophia Popov, Robynn Ree, Lizette Salas, and Jennifer Song. UCLA: Bronte Law, Alison Lee, Ryann O'Toole, Patty Tavatanakit, Mariajo Uribe, Lilia Vu.

The Palos Verdes Championship wraps up the West Coast swing for the LPGA Tour. The inaugural event will feature seven of nine Tour winners this season, including Jin Young Ko. The No. 1 golfer in the Rolex Rankings. Ko was in the third to last pairing on Sunday but shot a 75 to finish tied for 21st at Wilshire.

 

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