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By Fred Altieri
Sports Reporter 

Nasa Hataoka Takes Four-Stroke Lead Going Into Sunday

No. 1 JIn Young Ko Falls Five Back


April 28, 2022

Moving Day under the Hollywood Sign lived up to its billing as Nasa Hataoka, Jin Young Ko and Hannah Green attacked from tee-to-green during Round 3 of the 2022 DIO Implant LA Open. Hataoka emerged as the clear-cut favorite with a 4-stroke lead at 11-under par going into Sunday's final round. But the sub-plot was provided by the barranca that rolls throughout Wilshire Country Club.

The par-4 17th green is protected on its the side by a prominent wall above and along the barranca. Ko collapsed with a quadruple bogey eight at the 17th hole and was suddenly down by six strokes. Her approach shot sailed short and left into the barranca's wet sand. Two wedge shot attempts later (both bounced off the wall and back into the barranca - the second into water), a penalty, two putts...

I thought if I make par still good, but I make birdie on last hole. Especially last hole is huge for next round, for the prepare. So, I played not bad. Just 17 was big mistake," said Ko. "But this is golf. I don't have regret"

Two holes earlier, Ko had rallied to tie Hataoka at -10 with a birdie at the par-5 15th hole. She birdied the par-3 18th hole to trail by five strokes and will tee off Sunday in the third to last group with Lilia Vu, who is one of five UCLA Alums that made the cut at the LA Open. Vu's 5-under par 66 tied for low round of the day with Yaelimi Noh.

Hataoka will tee off with Hannah Green in Sunday's final pairing at 2:35 p.m. Hataoka shot five birdies and only one bogey. Ko had four birdies but three bogeys and the quadruple. "To be honest, I didn't expect this position at the beginning of this week. But like I said before, something clicked inside me during yesterday's round. So, I'll try to keep that momentum going forward for tomorrow's round," said Hataoka.

All of my birdies except 9, they were inside 15 feet, so I feel like I was putting really good. Especially afternoon, the poana greens are really tricky. But I feel like I was able to adjust to that."

Ko: "This course is tough one, so I'm trying to focus on my game. And I have one more round to go, so I will use the all energy from my body. When asked about the loud cheers from the gallery: "Yeah, it feels like in Korea. And always happy to play in LA. So, yeah, I'm looking forward (to Sunday's round).

Green, down by three strokes after six holes, played under the radar with three birdies and one bogey while Ko and Hataoka shared or held the lead. Yet, Green felt she left some opportunities on the course and expects to test Hataoka on Sunday: "I felt pretty flat with the putter today. Felt like I missed a lot of putts high and just a little bit too firm. So, I feel like if I can get my speed control I can see a lot of putts going in."

But I feel like I haven't played my entire best, so I'm hoping tomorrow I can kind of get everything to go my way and try and put as much pressure on Nasa as possible."

Looming in the second to last pairing is Inbee Park and Haeji Kang, both at 6-under. Haeji has shot three consecutive 69's while Park has nine birdies and only two bogeys over the past two days. "Really similar round to yesterday... Ball striking was really good. Didn't miss many fairways or greens," said Park.

I love this golf course... You know, this golf course, anything can happen on this golf course, especially you had a one bad putting day, it's just, it's a disaster on this golf course. So, trying to play a good round of golf tomorrow and just see what happens."


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