Kim vying to become first Korean to win JGTO money crown

JAPAN TOUR MONEY LIST

  1. Kim Kyung-tae (KOR) ¥176,119,599
  2. Ryo Ishikawa (JPN) ¥147,289,779
  3. Yuta Ikeda (JPN) ¥140,058,830
  4. Hiroyuki Fujita (JPN) ¥117,932,927
  5. Michio Matsumura (JPN) ¥105,457,863
  6. Toru Taniguchi (JPN) ¥88,020,730
  7. Takashi Kanemoto (JPN) ¥76,968,580
  8. Katsumasa Miyamoto (JPN) ¥72,826,116
  9. Brendan Jones (AUS) ¥72,359,438
  10. Shunsuke Sonoda (JPN) ¥68,588,464

The race for the Japan Golf Tour money title is going down to the wire.

Although Kim Kyung-tae enters this week’s season-ending Golf Nippon Series JT Cup as the favorite, Ryo Ishikawa and Yuta Ikeda both have a mathematical chance to surpass the Korean.

With earnings of about 176 million yen (US$2.1 million) this year, Kim leads defending money list champion Ishikawa by 29 million yen and Ikeda by 36 million yen.

But with a 40 million yen (US$476,000) check going to the winner at Tokyo Yomuiri Country Club, the Japanese duo are not about to concede.

Most of the attention in the opening round of the 28-man event will be focused on Kim, Ishikawa and Ikeda. With 11 JGTO wins this season among them, they will play alongside each other in a blockbuster grouping.

The stakes could hardly be higher with Kim aiming to become the first Korean to top the standings in Japan and only the second non-Japanese national to win the money list title since the tour was formally launched in 1973.

David Ishii, an American of Japanese descent, was the first to accomplish the feat in 1987.

When Ikeda and Ishikawa failed to win last week’s Casio World Open, Kim had a chance to clinch the title. But he showed uncharacteristic signs of stress during an error-strewn final-round 75 that saw him finish equal 20th – his second-worst performance of the season.

In 19 starts on the JGTO this year, Kim has won three times with 11 top-5 finishes, and was runner-up to Ikeda at the Dunlop Phoenix Tournament in November. His worst result was a tie for 33rd in July at the Toshin Tournament.

At last year’s Golf Nippon Series JT Cup, Kim lost in a playoff to Shigeki Maruyama.

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