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Nasa Hataoka fires 61 for first-round lead at Marathon Classic

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Japan’s Nasa Hataoka turned in a bogey-free, 10-under 61 on Thursday to leap out to a four-stroke lead at the Marathon LPGA Classic at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio.

Hataoka recorded 10 birdies, including six straight from No. 15 to No. 2 after starting on the back nine. Had she made two more birdies to conclude her round, Hataoka would have secured the second round of 59 in LPGA Tour history.

But the 22-year-old only managed par on the eighth and ninth holes and had to settle for 10 under and a major advantage over the field. Annika Sorenstam remains the only LPGA golfer to shoot a 59 in competitive play.

“When I had my ninth birdie (59) kind of did come to my mind,” Hataoka said, “but then after I only having two holes I just thought how great Annika was more than me getting it, yeah.”

Hataoka said 61 was the best score she could remember having, even counting practice rounds.

“I think what was really working is I was able to control my iron shots to make sure I could get close to the pin to get the birdies,” Hataoka said.

Her biggest accomplishment of the season was a second-place finish at the U.S. Women’s Open, where she qualified for a playoff but lost to Yuka Saso of the Philippines. Hataoka’s last tour win came at the Kia Classic in 2019.

Lauren Stephenson is alone in second after a bogey-free, 6-under 65. Five players tied for third after the first round with 5-under 66s: Finland’s Matilda Castren, Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn, Ssu-Chia Cheng of Chinese Taipei, Mina Harigae and Yealimi Noh. All of them except for Jutanugarn finished without a bogey, while Jutanugarn carded seven birdies and two bogeys.

Castren continued a run of top form after placing second at last week’s Volunteers of America Classic and winning the LPGA Mediheal Championship in June.

–Field Level Media

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