Japan’s Nasa Hataoka seized a share of the lead at the NW Arkansas Championship after firing her second hole-in-one in as many days en route to a 65 in Saturday’s second round.
Hataoka aced the 175-yard par-three No 6 on Saturday with a five iron, one day after she aced the par-three No 11 in another round of 65.
She became just the fifth player in LPGA Tour history to make two aces in one tournament and the first since her Japanese compatriot Ayako Uehara at the 2016 Women’s Open.
“When I hit the ball, it felt really good,” Hataoka said. “It went the way it was supposed to go. Though I never suspect it would be a hole-in-one, it was amazing.”
Asked how she was able to it do two days in a row, Hataoka said it is “obviously something that’s not able to be done so easily, so I feel really, really proud of it.”
The former tournament winner is tied with Australia’s Minjee Lee at 12-under 130 heading into the final round of the 54-hole tournament at the Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas.
Lee shot a blistering bogey-free 63 that included eight birdies in the $2.3-million 54-hole tournament.
South Korea’s Ji Eun-Hee is in solo third at 11-under after a three-under 68. Lee6 Jeong-Eun, of South Korea, and Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn are tied for fourth at 10-under, two strokes back of the leaders.
Hataoka, who won the 2018 Arkansas event, now has four aces in her career which began when she turned pro in 2016. She became just the fourth LPGA player to record hole-in-ones in back-to-back rounds.
Jennifer Kupcho, who played alongside Hataoka the first two days, envies Hataoka because the American is still seeking her first career ace.
“I have never witnessed one, and to witness two in two days is really cool. Super excited for her,” said Kupcho, who shot a 66 and is at nine-under.
© Agence France-Presse