Nasa Hataoka has shown flashes of brilliance in her brief LPGA career, and did so again in capturing the Kia Classic at Aviara Resort for her third LPGA win at age 20.
Hataoka backed up a third-round 64 with a final-round 67 for a three-shot margin of victory over five players, however the cushion doesn’t reveal the full story. Holding a two-shot lead after missing a short par putt at the 16th hole, Hataoka hit a 54-degree wedge from 93 yards that stopped six inches from the cup for a birdie to boost her lead back to three with one hole to play.
That shot was struck with a Cleveland RTX 2.0 PF wedge, but other parts of Hataoka’s game were on the mark as well. She averaged a healthy 269 yards off the tee with her Srixon Z 785 driver and hit 60 of 72 greens in regulation with her Srixon Z 745 irons. On the greens, she needed just 54 putts over the final two rounds with her Ping Scottsdale TR Piper C putter.
As for that bounce-back birdie, Hataoka’s take belied her age. “Anyone can make mistakes out here,” she said. “I forgot about the bogey very quickly. I knew that 17 was a chance I could make a birdie, and just very relieved and felt great that I was able to actually get a birdie.”
Another flash of brilliance from a player who, by all appearances, is anything but a flash in the pan.
What Nasa Hataoka had in the bag at the Kia Classic:
Ball: Srixon Z-Star
Driver: Srixon Z 785, 10.5 degrees
3-wood: Srixon Z F 65, 15 degrees
Hybrids: Srixon Z H 85 (19, 22 degrees)
Irons: (5-PW): Srixon Z 745
Wedges: Cleveland RTX 2.0 PF (50, 54, 58 degrees)
Putter: Ping Scottsdale TR Piper C