Asian Am champ Matsuyama wins on Japan Tour

Amateur Hideki Matsuyama hits a shot on the second hole during the second round of the 2011 Masters.

Hideki Matsuyama, the two-time Asian Amateur champion who impressed at this year’s Masters, won the Japan Tour’s Taiheiyo Masters on Sunday, becoming the third amateur to win on the Japan Tour.

Matsuyama, 19, eagled the par-5 18th to win by two shots over Toru Taniguchi, the 72nd-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking. Matsuyama finished at 13-under 203 (71-64-68).

“I didn’t expect to win this tournament,” Matsuyama told The Japan Times. “At the 18th hole, (final-group playing competitor Toru) Taniguchi-san set up an eagle chance, so I just tried to follow him with a shot of my own.”

Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and Sang-Moon Bae, No. 27 in the OWGR, were among the players tied for third at 10-under par. Ryo Ishikawa, who’ll join Schwartzel at this week’s Presidents Cup in Australia, finished eighth. Another member of the International Presidents Cup team, Kyung-Tae Kim, finished 15th.

Matsuyama birdied Nos. 14 and 15 before eagling the final hole at Taiheiyo Club’s Gotemba Course. The victory moved him to No. 196 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He entered the event ranked sixth in the R&A’s World Amateur Golf Ranking. The World Amateur Golf Ranking will be updated Wednesday.

Matsuyama finished 27th at this year’s Masters to earn low-amateur honors. He won his second consecutive Asian Amateur, on Oct. 2 at Singapore Island Country Club. That victory earned him an invitation to the 2012 Masters.

He has made the cut in five of seven Japan Tour starts over the past two seasons, finishing in the top 10 three times. In addition to his Taiheiyo Masters victory, he finished sixth at this year’s Sun Chlorella Classic and third at the 2010 Japan Open.

Ishikawa, who won the 2010 Taiheiyo Masters, aced the 228-yard, par-3 17th Sunday with a 4-iron. He was the most recent amateur to have won on the Japan Tour. He was 15 years old when he won the 2007 Munsingwear Open KSB Cup. Masahiro Kuramoto was the first amateur to win in tour history, at the 1980 Chugoku-Shikoku Open.

The Taiheiyo Masters was reduced to 54 holes after rain washed out second-round play.

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