Golf: Hataoka Becomes Youngest Japan Lpga Pro At 17 Yrs, 8 Months


Golf: Hataoka becomes youngest Japan LPGA pro at 17 yrs, 8 monthsNasa Hataoka became the youngest golfer on the Japan Ladies Professional Golfers' Association tour on Monday at the age of 17 years and eight months.
Hataoka, who on Oct. 2 became the first amateur to win one of four major tournaments on the tour, broke her idol Ai Miyazato's record by seven months, according to the association.


"It's always been my dream to be a professional. I hope to go on the world stage and win lots of titles," Hataoka told a press conference. "It's pleasing I could turn professional having won an event (with pro golfers taking part). I'll make this a new start."

Hataoka received surprise video messages from Miyazato as well as male golfer Hideki Matsuyama, who both predominantly compete in the United States.

"You are still only 17. Dream big and I hope you turn into a nice professional," said Miyazato to Hataoka, the winner of the last two Junior World Championships.

"I'm grateful for the messages from the two golfers doing well on the world stage," Hataoka said. "She (Miyazato) always smiles regardless of her form. I think the way she cares about those around her is amazing."

Hataoka, who will travel to the United States on Wednesday and compete in the second-round qualifying tournament for next year's U.S. LPGA tour, knows what she needs to work on and has big aspirations.

"I'm not that big (158 centimeters in height) but I can carry. I have to work most on my short game," she said. "I'd like to add variation to my approach. I'm lacking putting techniques too."

"My dream is to win the gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and to win a world major title. I'd like to win at a U.S. LPGA tour event in the next two years, and in the majors over the next five," Hataoka said.