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Nasa Hataoka grabs 4-shot lead at LA Open

Nasa Hataoka carried over her strong finish from Round 2 and completed a 4-under-par 67 on Saturday to vault to a four-shot lead after three rounds of the LA Open.

Hataoka, of Japan, birdied her final three holes on Friday and finished Saturday’s round with five birdies and just one bogey. Her second-round co-leader, South Korea’s Jin Young Ko, finished the day at 1-over 72 after a pair of disastrous holes near the end of her round at Wilshire Country Club.

Hataoka hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation in pursuit of her sixth LPGA Tour win.

“So during yesterday’s round, something clicked inside me, and I was able to bring that to today’s round, too,” Hataoka said. “I think that really helped me today. … All of my birdies except (No. 9), they were inside 15 feet, so I feel like I was putting really good.”

Ko played her first 15 holes bogey-free at 3 under but went bogey/quadruple bogey on Nos. 16 and 17. She managed a birdie on 18 and is among three golfers tied at 6 under. The others are countrywomen Inbee Park (68) and Haeji Kang (69).

Despite the rough few holes, Ko was upbeat about her round after a birdie on 18.

“I thought if I make par (on 18) still good, but I make birdie on last hole. Especially last hole is huge for next round, for the prepare. So I played not bad; just 17 was big mistake,” she said.

Australia’s Hannah Green, who began the day alone in second place, fired a 2-under 69 to remain in second, four shots behind Hataoka.

Among three golfers tied for sixth at 4 under is Lilia Vu, who fired a 66, highlighted by three birdies in her first four holes and an eagle on No. 13.

“I mean, I usually get off to a slow start, and then my best rounds come from starting really early in the round. I mean, I saw the opportunities and took advantage of it, I guess,” said Vu.

She is tied with South Korea’s Chella Choi, who shot 67 after back-to-back 71s, and Australia’s Minjee Lee, whose roller coaster round included four birdies, two bogeys and one double-bogey. Choi’s round included seven birdies and three bogeys.

–Field Level Media

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