Nasa Hataoka is out of this world. She’s carded two wins already this season at the Dana Open presented by Marathon and the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship along with two additional top 10s. Hataoka ranks third on the LPGA Tour in sand saves at 60.53% and came into this week at the CME Group Tour Championship at 10th in the Race to the CME Globe and fifth on the Official Money List for the 2021 season.
But after a bogey-free 64 that saw a 29 on her closing nine and eight birdies in her last 10 holes on moving day, the 22-year-old reminded everyone at Tiburón Golf Club just how astronomically low she can go as she heads into Sunday tied for the lead at –14.
“I was feeling really well from the beginning,” she said after a Saturday effort that tied the third-lowest round of her career, a number she’s shot nine other times. “The first nine I wasn't really stroking my putts well, but I was patient with that. I was more focused on my routine this week, which helped my game today.”
This is the seventh time that Hataoka has held the lead or co-led through 54 holes, and she’s won four times when doing so, most recently at both the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship and Dana Open earlier this year. At the Tour’s season finale, in which she’s only played three times, Hataoka’s best finish is solo ninth, a record she’s looking to shatter with a win on Sunday. With confidence derived from her Saturday play and victorious experience in previous co-leading situations, Nasa is set for a stellar Sunday and is looking forward to a chance at one of the biggest purses in women’s golf.
“I wasn't playing that consistently all year, but I thought the image of my golf is something that’s very important for me, so that's one thing I worked on after Arkansas,” said Hataoka. “After shooting a good round (today), there are a lot of things in my mind, but I try not to think too much about my game. I do have a goal for this week to just play consistently and want to do the best I can tomorrow.”