Last year’s Dana Open presented by Marathon champion Nasa Hataoka was surprised when the event was shortened to 54 holes due to inclement weather, but a win’s a win. The six-shot victory over Mina Harigae and Elizabeth Szokol marked the fourth one of the 23-year-old Japanese native’s career and was the first of two victories last season. Hataoka also won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G just a short time later.
“Obviously, everyone wanted to finish that round,” said Hataoka of last year’s final day. “I was ready for that round, too, to play the fourth round. It was unexpected when I was told that I won the tournament. I'm happy with how I played last year and happy to win the fifth win last year.”
Hataoka became a six-time LPGA Tour winner earlier this season at the DIO Implant LA Open at Wilshire Country Club where she defeated her friend Hannah Green by a whopping five shots, shooting all four rounds in the 60s. She’s currently the third winningest female Japanese golfer, three behind Ai Miyazato (9) and 11 behind Ayako Okamoto (17) and says adding the LA Open title to her resume was a big confidence boost for the rest of the season. While she hasn’t been in the mix as of late, the LPGA Tour is now heading into its fall season, a time of year that seems to bode well for Hataoka, even more so considering she’s defending.
“This course, it's very challenging. Fairways are narrow, greens are pretty small, so it's really important for you to hit good shots, and I think I was able to do that last year,” Hataoka said. “The win in LA definitely gave me a boost of confidence, especially on a very difficult golf course like that. Recently I haven't been in contention, but I feel like fall is my season. I feel like it's one of my favorite seasons. So I will try my best, and maybe two wins is a good number.”