Nasa Hataoka and Amy Yang Share Lead in CME Group Tour Championship
By Associated Press | Nov 19, 2023, 07:04 AM
NAPLES, Fla. – Nasa Hataoka and Amy Yang are tied for the lead in the CME Group Tour Championship with 18 holes left and a $2 million prize on the line. Both players had impressive performances, with Hataoka starting strong and Yang finishing with a flourish.
Yang closed out her round with four birdies in her final six holes, carding an 8-under 64. Hataoka set the pace early in the tournament, recording five birdies in her first 11 holes and finishing with a 65. Their combined score of 21-under 195 puts them within striking distance of the tournament record.
“It does feel quite nervous being in contention, but I never thought like I have to follow the 9-under par yesterday, because golf you never know,” said Yang, who shot a 63 on Friday. “But I did try my best just to stay present, and when I decide to hit one shot, I just commit to it and go for it.”
Hataoka, when asked about her strategy to win the tournament and claim the $2 million prize, said, “Not to change anything. My swing feels really comfortable… I think the best is to just concentrate on my round and just keep that out of my mind and just do my golf.”
Alison Lee, who entered the LPGA finale with a Ladies European Tour win and two runner-up finishes on the LPGA Tour, tried to keep pace but could only manage four birdies. She settled for a 68, leaving her three shots behind the leaders heading into the final round.
The CME Group Tour Championship offers a $2 million prize, matching the richest in women’s golf, equal to the U.S. Women’s Open. Only six women have earned $2 million or more throughout the entire season, making this final event a significant opportunity for the 60 players who qualified.
Yang will be aiming to secure her first victory in America, having previously won four LPGA titles in South Korea and Thailand. Hataoka, on the other hand, has six LPGA titles to her name, all won within the past five years. The 24-year-old from Japan showcased her exceptional putting skills, giving herself a chance to claim the championship.
Xiyu Lin sits four shots behind the leaders after carding a 66. Women’s PGA champion Ruoning Yin and two-time major champion Minjee Lee are another shot back, both with a 69 on a day when the scoring was challenging.
The tournament has been played under wet conditions, with Tiburon Golf Club receiving 4 inches of rain on the eve of the event. The course remains soft and smooth, resulting in low scores and generous fairways. Jin Young Ko holds the tournament record at 23-under par, set two years ago.
Nelly Korda made her first hole-in-one on the LPGA Tour at the par-3 eighth, but consecutive bogeys on the back nine hindered her progress. She settled for a 66, leaving her seven shots behind the leaders. World No. 1 Lilia Vu, Brooke Henderson of Canada, and Atthaya Thitikul are also tied with Korda at 66.
Vu is on the verge of securing the points-based award for LPGA Player of the Year. She needed to finish eighth or better to guarantee the title, and with Celine Boutier far behind in a tie for 35th, Vu’s chances are looking promising.