Friday, September 13, 2019



 Kobe, Japan September 13: Japan’s Nasa Hataoka secured her place atop the leaderboard by signing for a second round five-under-par 67 to take a one-shot advantage into the weekend rounds at the 52nd LPGA Championship Konica Minolta Cup on Friday.
Compatriot Kana Mikashima, who is seeking her breakthrough on the Ladies Professional Golfers’ Association of Japan, moved into contention by returning with a 67 to trail Hataoka by one with her two-day total of seven-under-par 137 at the Cherry Hills Golf Club.
World number eight Inbee Park of South Korea posted a 72 to take a share of eighth place, four shots back of Hataoka while China’s Feng Shanshan posted rounds of 72 and 71 to be among a group of 11 players tied for 23rd place on 143 total.
Hataoka, who is chasing her third win on the LPGA Japan this week, seemed to be cruising towards the finishing line after firing five birdies through 11 holes.
However, a double-bogey seven on 14 stopped her charge momentarily. But she stormed back with two successive birdies on 17 and 18 to snatch the outright lead.
“Except for the 14th I played really well. I hit my tee shot too far to the left and it landed in the rough all the way to green. But I’m so proud I managed to finish with two birdies.
“I need to control the ball better and try to put it closer to the pin because of the challenging greens. I don’t know much about the weather but if the winds blows stronger then I have to keep the ball low,” said Hataoka.
Having made it into the weekend rounds, Park is now looking ahead to make her charge.
“My ball striking was not as good as yesterday. So, I struggled little bit in the earlier round. I was three-over in my front-nine but I played solid on back-nine. I just need to work on my ball striking and I should be ok and ready for the weekend,” said the former world number one.
Feng knows she will have a tough battle ahead as she needs to overcome a seven-shot deficit that separates Hataoka and her.
“If she (Hataoka) plays like that, she will go further ahead and have a good chance (of winning). And for me, I’ve to go really low. I’m still here with a chance and I’ll try my best to do whatever I can to stop her,” said Feng.
S. Langkul, Thailand’s sole representative at the Ladies Professional Golfers’ Association of Japan (LPGA) event which is co-sponsored by Konica Minolta Inc. meanwhile missed the weekend cut right by one despite carding an improved 71, having earlier struggled with an opening 76.
“It has been a challenge the last two days but I’m glad I fought back with a 71 today. I struggled with the thick rough and the spike marks on the green. But despite my efforts, I missed the cut by one. But that’s golf and I just have to do better in my next event,” said the Thai.
The cut was set at two-over-par with 61 players making it into the final two rounds.
For full scores, click here.


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