Third time is the charm for Hoshino

Third time is the charm for Hoshino

Rikuya Hoshino has finally made The Open cut on his third attempt.


The 27-year-old golfer carded an improved two-under-par 69 at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club on Friday, earning him a place in the weekend rounds alongside his compatriot and the 2021 Masters winner, Hideki Matsuyama.


Entering the day at four-over-par, Hoshino was facing the possibility of another early exit after dropping two more bogeys in his opening five holes.


However, all that quickly changed when he recovered with morale-boosting birdies on the seventh and ninth holes, returning to even-par for the day.


With his confidence restored, Hoshino went on to secure a massive eagle on the par-five 15th hole, brilliantly chipping in from 23 yards.


He finished with a flourish, securing a birdie on the 18th hole, ending up in a tie for 39th with a two-day total of two-over-par 144 - a remarkable improvement of 70 places from where he started.


"I'm glad I was able to make the cut this time. It was heart-pounding; it's bad for my heart!" said a relieved Hoshino, who's making his eighth Major appearance.


"I have been wondering about the cut line all day. When I got to three-over, I thought that would have been enough. But I was determined to go for another birdie."


Hoshino had found links courses hard to deal with, as he previously failed to make the grade in his debut at the Royal St Georges in 2021 and St Andrews last year.


Now that he's through to the final rounds, Hoshino is hoping to earn a respectable finish.


"Finally, I was able to pass the demanding test. On links courses, shots are very important. The past two years have been really frustrating," he said.


"I want to keep moving up on the leaderboard so that I can compete for the top positions on the final day."


Matsuyama added a 72 to finish tied for 25th, but he will need to produce something extraordinary if he's to contend for his second major title.


Entering the weekend on an even-par 142, Matsuyama is trailing American leader Brian Harman by 10 shots.


Harman opened a five-shot lead over second-placed Tommy Fleetwood of England after firing a superb 65.


It was the end of the road for seven other JGTO members, with Kazuki Yasumori missing the cut by an agonizing one shot after signing for a second successive 73 to finish on four-over-par 146.


The rest were reigning JGTO money list winner Kazuki Higa (73-75), Keita Nakajima (72-76), Taiga Semikawa (77-75), Takumi Kanaya (73-80), Kensei Hirata (75-81), and Hiroshi Iwata (77-79).


Nakajima lamented: "It's really frustrating. I was unlucky, but I made mistakes not only today but also yesterday. I want to be better overall. It was a disappointing experience this time, but I want to make amends by trying to win a tournament when the JGTO season resumes next week."