Flawless Nasa Hataoka looks to avenge major losses with USWO win at Pebble
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The sun came out today, sang John Fogerty, a music legend born a couple hours north of here in Berkeley, California.
He also sang, come on the rising wind, which actualized as well.
It was a bright, blue and very breezy Saturday at Pebble Beach. Heavenly for those watching; a little devilish for those competing.
Just perfect for Nasa Hataoka.
The 24-year-old, six-time LPGA Tour winner shot a flawless 6-under 66 to grab the 54-hole lead at the U.S. Women’s Open. She stands at 7 under par for the championship.
Allisen Corpuz bogeyed her final hole to finish one back. The second-year LPGA member shot 71 to post 6 under.
Bailey Tardy, the overnight leader by two, shared third place with Hyo Joo Kim (73), following a 75. The two are locked at 4 under.
Only two others among the 74 players who made the cut are under par. Jiyai Shin (70) and Hae Ran Ryu (73) are at minus-2.
“Well, compared to the first two days, it was a bit windier today,” Hataoka said. “However, the temperatures were higher, thank goodness, so I think my body participated with the higher temperatures, and I was able to manage all my goals.”
One of the goals must have been perfection. Hataoka made six birdies compared to no bogeys and beat the field average by nearly nine shots in the third round.
She was one of the only players to shoot under par on the back nine, coming home in 32, three strokes fewer than anyone else in the field.
While the front nine played downwind and offered scoring opportunities – at least until the eighth hole – the back nine was dead into the wind.
“Super windy out there today,” said Tardy. “A lot different conditions than the first two days.”
Tardy, in her rookie season on tour, was the only player to break 70 in each of the first two rounds, making eagle at the sixth hole on both days. Saturday, however, she pushed her tee shot over the cliff on the par 5 and made bogey.
She also made a double bogey at the par-4 15th, before rebounding with a birdie at No. 16 to better her chances on Sunday.
“I’m still in contention. I was leading the U.S. Open after two days. I think there was a little bit of nerves involved today,” she said. “But yeah, just going to go out and enjoy tomorrow and see what happens.”
Tardy’s third-round playing competitor, Corpuz, turned a two-shot deficit into a two-stroke lead through 10 holes. She shared the top spot with Hataoka entering the par-5 18th, but her layup finished in a buried lie in the elongated left-hand bunker.
The error led to a bogey-6, dropping her a shot back of Hataoka, but still alongside her on Sunday.
“Yeah, it means a ton. It’s just really special to be in the final pairing, and I’m really excited and looking forward to it,” Corpuz said.
So, too, is Hataoka, who is seeking her first major title. She has two previous playoff losses, coming in the 2018 KPMG Women’s PGA and in this event, up around the bend at Olympic Club, in ’21.
“I have that experience from those past tournaments, and so I want to be true to myself,” Hataoka said, “and I want to rely on the help that I receive from my staff and all the people around me and do my best.”