Miyamoto celebrates major feat in Japan Championship

Katsumasa Miyamoto celebrates after holing a birdie putt on the final green.

photo

JGTO

Katsumasa Miyamoto

TOKYO, Japan - Katsumasa Miyamoto survived a final-round meltdown to claim victory in the 120 million yen (about US$1.3 million) Japan Tour Championship Citibank Cup Shishido Hills.

Despite a nervy closing four-over-par 75, which included three double-bogeys, Miyamoto clung on to capture the eighth title of his Japan Golf Tour Organisation’s (JGTO) career and his second major.

LEADING FINAL-ROUND SCORES

279 - Katsumasa Miyamoto (JPN) 69-67-68-75

282 - Hiroyuki Fujita (JPN) 70-76-68-68

283 - Tetsuji Hiratsuka (JPN) 75-69-68-71

284 - Shingo Katayama (JPN) 75-70-70-69; Kim Kyung-tae (KOR) 72-71-70-71

285 - Masahiro Kuramoto (JPN) 72-73-72-68; Shigeki Maruyama (JPN) 71-71-70-73; Hiroshi Iwata (JPN) 72-70-69-74

286 - Kenichi Kuboya (JPN) 76-70-72-68; Bae Sang-moon (KOR) 71-76-71-68; Daisuke Maruyama (JPN) 72-68-76-70

287 - Kodai Ichihara (JPN) 71-79-69-68; Koki Idoki (JPN) 74-74-69-70; Brendan Jones (AUS) 74-69-72-72

288 - IJ Jang (KOR) 71-75-74-68; Mitsuhiro Tateyama (JPN) 73-72-75-68; Zhang Lian-wei (CHN) 74-70-74-70; Ryo Ishikawa (JPN) 70-70-75-73; Masaya Tomida (JPN) 72-74-67-75

289 - Yasuharu Imano (JPN) 75-76-69-69; Kim Do-hoon (KOR) 77-72-69-71

Seven shots clear of the field after completing the final four holes of the weather-hit third round early Sunday morning, Miyamoto finished with a four-day aggregate of five-under 279 - three clear of runner-up Hiroyuki Fujita.

The only other player to finish in red figures at the Shishido Hills Country Club was Tetsuji Hiratsuka, whose one-under 283 tally left him alone in third place.

Reflecting on his triumph, Miyamoto said: "I knew I could hold on to win if I played just as usual, but I shot myself in the foot. I was relieved when my second shot landed on the green on the 18th. This might be the most delightful win of my career."

Shingo Katayama and Korean Kim Kyung-tae were joint fourth at even-par 284 while crowd favourite Ryo Ishikawa could only manage a 73 and ended 15th on 288.

Given his cushion going into the last round, the 37-year-old Miyamoto, winner of the Japan Tour Championship in 2001, might reasonably have expected a gentle Sunday stroll.

But a double-bogey six at the 398-yard first hole proved a wake-up call and he immediately struck back, making an eagle-three at the 519-yard second. When he picked up another shot at the long sixth and turned in one-under 35, only one outcome appeared possible.

Even bogeys at 10 and 14 did not seem likely to alter the course of events. But then Miyamoto froze, taking a seven at the long 15th and a six at the par-four 17th.

Knowing that another double at the 18th would have dragged him down to two-under and level with Fujita, Miyamoto finally regained control of his emotions. With a long putt for a birdie-three, he at least had the satisfaction of finishing in style.

For his first win since the 2008 Token Homemate Cup, Miyamoto picked up a cheque for 24 million yen (about US$260,000) as well as gaining a five-year exemption on the tour.

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