Nasa Hataoka said Saturday evening after grabbing a four-shot lead at the DIO Implant LA Open that “something clicked inside me.”
She wasn’t kidding.
The 23-year-old Japanese star birdied four of her first seven holes Sunday at Wilshire Country Club to leave the rest of the field in the dust. She eventually cruised to a five-shot win, carding a 4-under 67 to finish at 15 under.
Hataoka’s next closest competitor was Hannah Green, who finished at 10 under.
After the hot start, Hataoka cooled a bit with seven straight pars, though Green was still five shots behind as they headed to the par-5 15th hole. That’s where Hataoka drained a 40-footer for eagle to push her advantage to six.
The victory marks Hataoka’s sixth on the LPGA and first since last year’s Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. She crossed $5.5 million in career earnings with her $225,000 winner’s check.
World No. 1 Jin Young Ko, who was in contention until a quadruple bogey on the penultimate hole of her third round, continued to back up on Sunday. She shot 75 and finished T-21 at 2 under.