JEJU ISLAND, South Korea – Shunsuke Sonoda held firm in the face of a furious late Korean revival to secure victory for Japan in the Hyundai Capital Invitational.
Sonoda defeated Kim Dae-hyun to deliver what proved to be the decisive point for Japan in the three-day Ryder Cup-style contest.
Although Japanese big guns Ryo Ishikawa, Yuta Ikeda and Shingo Katayama lost in the final-day singles, Japan managed to win five of the 10 contests.
Having led 5 1/2 – 4 1/2 overnight, the visitors clinched a tense 10 1/2 – 9 1/2 win at Haevichi Country Club.
Ishikawa, who won just one of a possible three points, said: “It’s been a valuable week. We had a wonderful team, and I was able to refresh.’’
Sonoda said: “I have had a really happy time and I hope I can continue to play in this tournament in the future.’’
Thanks to singles wins from Katsumasa Miyamoto, Hiroyuki Fujita, Koumei Oda and Kaname Yokoo, Japan appeared to be coasting to victory in the US $700,000 event, which was revived after a six-year absence.
But cheered on by the home fans, the Koreans, led by Kim Kyung-tae, refused to give up.
Facing Ishikawa in the penultimate match, Kim birdied five of the first six holes to lead by five shots. Kim went on to card a 64, the low round of the day, and claim a seven-shot success.
With Katayama soundly beaten by Bae Sang-moon and Ikeda narrowly falling to Kang Kyung-nam, it became apparent that the outcome rested on the clash between Sonoda and Kim Dae-hyun.
Three under for his round, Sonoda led by four shots with five holes to play. But two birdies from Kim and a Sonoda bogey at 17 meant the Japanese went to the 18th tee with a one-stroke advantage. Sonoda made a birdie 3 for a round of 69 and a two-shot victory that sparked Japanese celebrations.
Korea was without arguably its top three players – Y.E. Yang , K. J. Choi and Charlie Wi, all of whom were in action in the PGA Tour’s BMW Championship.
Overall score: Japan 10 1/2, Korea 9 1/2
FINAL-DAY SINGLES – Korea 5 Japan 5
Kim Dae-sub (KOR) 68 beat Ryuichi Oda (JPN) 75
Kim Hyung-sun (KOR) 70 lost to Katsumasa Miyamoto (JPN) 69
Kim Bi-o (KOR) 75 lost to Hiroyuki Fujita (JPN) 69
Kim Do-hoon (KOR) 70 lost to Koumei Oda (JPN) 68
Lee Seong-ho (KOR) 69 lost to Kaname Yokoo (JPN) 68
Son Joon-eob (KOR) 72 beat Daisuke Maruyama (JPN) 73
Kim Dae-hyun (KOR) 71 lost to Shunsuke Sonoda (JPN) 69
Kang Kyung-nam (KOR) 68 beat Yuta Ikeda (JPN) 69
Kim Kyung-tae (KOR) 64 beat Ryo Ishikawa (JPN) 71
Bae Sang-moon (KOR) 69 beat Shingo Katayama (JPN) 73
DAY TWO FOURBALLS – Korea 2 1/2, Japan 2 1/2
Lee Seong-ho/Son Joon-eob (KOR) 70 halved with Daisuke Maruyama/Kaname Yokoo (JPN) 70
Kim Dae-sub/Kim Do-hoon (KOR) 65 beat Hiroyuki Fujita/Miyamoto Katsumasa (JPN) 69
Kim Dae-hyun/Kim Hyung-sung (KOR) 70 lost to Koumei Oda/Ryuichi Oda (JPN) 65
Kim Kyung-tae/Kim Bi-o (KOR) 67 lost to Shingo Katayama/Yuta Ikeda (JPN) 66
Bae Sang-moon/Kang Kyung-nam (KOR) 66 beat Ryo Ishikawa/Shunsuke Sonoda (JPN) 68
DAY ONE FOURSOMES – Korea 2, Japan 3
Kim Dae-sub/Kim Dae-hyun (KOR) 72 beat Koumei Oda/Ryuichi Oda (JPN) 79
Kim Do-hoon/Kim Bi-o (KOR) 72 lost to Daisuke Maruyama/Kaname Yokoo (JPN) 70
Kim Kyung-tae/Bae Sang-moon (KOR) 69 beat Hiroyuki Fujita/Katsumasa Miyamoto (JPN) 75