TOKYO – Takashi Kanemoto produced a stunning finish to snatch victory in the 150 million yen (about US$1.7 million) Championship by Lexus.
Kanemoto, 39, covered the final seven holes at Otone Country Club in Ibaraki Prefecture in 8 under.
270 – Takashi Kanemoto (JPN) 70-66-68-66
271 – Makoto Inoue (JPN) 68-71-67-65
276 – Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 71-69-70-66
277 – Akinori Tani (JPN) 68-72-69-68; Kazuhiro Yamashita (JPN) 69-67-70-71
278 – Tetsuya Haraguchi (JPN) 69-69-72-68; Shigeki Maruyama (JPN) 72-70-66-70; Ryuichi Oda (JPN) 68-69-70-71
279 – Bae Sang-moon (KOR) 68-74-70-67Kim Hyung-sung (KOR) 71-67-71-70
280 – Cho Min-gyu (KOR) 68-73-69-70
281 – Eddie Lee (NZL) 72-71-70-68; Nobuhiro Masuda (JPN) 71-70-70-70; Hiroshi Iwata (JPN) 68-71-68-74
282 – Kenichi Kuboya (JPN) 73-68-72-69; IJ Jang (KOR) 68-73-71-70
In an astonishing climax to a roller-coaster day, Kanemoto eagled the par-5 18th to clinch a one-shot victory from Japanese compatriot Makoto Inoue.
Kanemoto, who also eagled the long 13th and made birdies at 12, 14, 16 and 17, carded a 29 on the back for a closing 66 and a four-day total of 18-under 270.
Reflecting on his win, Kanemoto said: “From the 12th hole, I just stayed focused on attacking the pins. On 18, I was ready to go for an eagle even before hitting the second shot. I didn’t want to get into a playoff because the tide could turn.’’
Two shots ahead of Inoue, Kazurhito Yamashita and Fijian Dinesh Chand at the start of the final-round, nerve-riddled Kanemoto made bogeys at three of the first four holes.
Although he turned in 37, he trailed Inoue by four shots with nine holes to play. His plight worsened at the 11th where he bogeyed and Inoue snared his sixth birdie of the day to extend his advantage to six shots.
But then Kanemoto discovered a new gear and reduced the deficit to three shots with two holes remaining. When he birdied the 449-yard 17th and Inoue carded his only bogey of the day, Kanemoto went to the 18th trailing by one – and with momentum in his favor.
While Inoue could only manage a par, Kanemoto holed out with his third shot to clinch one of the most dramatic victories in Japan Golf Tour history.
The victory was worth 30 million yen (US$339,000) to Kanemoto, whose only previous title came in last year’s Mitsubishi Diamond Cup Golf. He had struggled for much of the early part of this season but found form last week, finishing T-4 in the Toshin Tournament in Lakewood.
At joint sixth 278, Ryuichi Oda was the highest placed of the seven Japanese playing this week who were due to depart for Scotland on Sunday night to compete in next week’s 150th anniversary Open Championship.
Of the others, Hirofumi Miyase and money list leader Hiroyuki Fujita were among those tied for 17th at 283. Toru Taniguchi was three shots further back in joint 35th.
Koumei Oda (145), Shunsuke Sonoda (147) and Katsumasa Miyamoto (150) all missed the cut.