Yang, Hataoka share lead after surge at Tour Championship

Nasa Hataoka putting on the 18th hole during the first round of the CME Group Tour Championship at the Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla., Friday, Nov. 16, 2023.
Credit: Chris Tilley/Special to the Naples Daily News / USA TODAY NETWORK

South Korea’s Amy Yang and Nasa Hataoka of Japan put a little distance between themselves and the field Saturday and share the lead after three rounds of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla.

Yang fired an 8-under-par 64 and Hataoka, the second-round co-leader, shot 65 at Tiburon Golf Club as both sit at 21 under heading into Sunday’s final round.

Second-round co-leader Alison Lee dropped off the pace with a 68 to own solo third at 18 under. China’s Xiyu Lin shot 66 to creep into solo fourth at 17 under. Australia’s Minjee Lee (third-round 69) and China’s Ruoning Yin (69) are tied for fifth, five shots off the lead.

Yang birdied the first hole and never looked back, posting eight birdies on the day without a bogey. In fact, she has played bogey-free golf since a bogey on No. 1 Thursday.

“Yeah, boy, I wasn’t even thinking about it,” Yang said.

“I’ve been hitting the ball really solid and that really gave me lots of chances out there,” she added. “My putting have been working so well, and just, yeah, was just everything worked out together.”

Hataoka also turned in a clean card with seven birdies.

“My hitting and putting good again, and I’m very happy to play bogey-free today,” Hataoka said.

Lee had no arguments with her 68 but a repeat of her Friday 64 would have been a game-changer on moving day.

“You can never complain with a 4-under par,” Lee said. “I just felt like today I hit it really well. Just couldn’t make the putts that I wanted to make. … Left quite a few today short. Didn’t really feel comfortable. I didn’t read some of the putts quite right.”

Lin had an interesting day. She posted a bogey on the front nine but then reeled off four straight birdies. She then repeated the pattern coming in – bogey followed by birdies on Nos. 15-18.

“I think the early bogey comes in with a little bit of frustration because it was a three-putt, but then I just keep telling myself there is plenty of opportunity out there,” Lin said. “And especially on this course, the first four is pretty hard to get through. … I did really good before I make the turn, so that sets pretty good tones going into the … back nine.”

Carlota Ciganda of Spain posted the day’s low round, 63, to leap into T11 at 1 under.

–Field Level Media

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