For those that missed Nasa Hataoka’s ace on No. 11 at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship on Friday, don’t worry. She did it again.
On Saturday, Hataoka found the bottom of the cup on No. 6 from 175 yards with a 5-iron for her fourth-career ace since 2018. She became just the fifth player in LPGA Tour history to make two aces in one tournament - the first since Ayako Uehara at the 2016 CP Women’s Open - and is the fourth to do it in back-to-back rounds. Hataoka is also the fourth player to have at least two aces in two different seasons, joining Betsy King (2, 1979 and 2, 1990), Meg Mallon (2, 1999 and 2, 2001) and Charlotta Sorenstam (2, 2001 and 3, 2002).
“When I hit the ball, it felt really good. It went the way it was supposed to go. Though I never suspect it would be a hole-in-one, it was amazing,” said Hataoka. “[Recording two aces] is obviously something that's not able to be done so easily, so I really, really feel proud of it.”
Jennifer Kupcho, who played alongside Hataoka the first two days at Pinnacle Country Club, witnessed the memorable aces from Nasa, and was quite impressed. “It's pretty cool. I don't think many people have done that,” said Kupcho, who currently sits at 9-under after going 67-66 on Friday and Saturday. “I have never witnessed one, and to witness two in two days is really cool. Super excited for her.”
Hataoka, who won the 2018 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship to become a Rolex First-Time Winner, is now tied for the 36-hole lead heading into the final day with major champion Minjee Lee. She set the tournament scoring record of -21 in her victory, and said it’ll take a low score like that to end Sunday on top once again.
“When I won, it was the best score of the tournament, so although it is very hard to go for it, I think I'll just aim for that and try to go for the win,” said Hataoka, who has already earned a victory in 2021 at the rain-shortened Marathon LPGA Classic.
For the hole-in-one, CME Group will donate another $20,000 to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which is leading the way the world understands, treats, and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. The 2021 season has now seen 15 aces for a total of $300,000 donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.