Mitsui Sumitomo VISA Taiheiyo Masters 2023

Hataji holds lead as heavy fog suspends play

Hataji holds lead as heavy fog suspends play

Takahiro Hataji clung on to his lead in the second round of the Mitsui Sumitomo Visa Taiheiyo Masters when play was suspended due to fog.

Hataji, who shared the opening-day lead with Tatsuya Kodai and Yujiro Ohori, maintained a one-stroke advantage with two holes still left to be completed when thick fog swept in from the Pacific, enveloping Shizuoka's Taiheiyo Club.

However, the 30-year-old Hataji is not alone at the top. He is joined by Shugo Imahira and Taiki Yoshida at seven-under-par for the tournament.

For Hataji, the suspension could prove to be a blessing in disguise, as he was facing difficulties on the back-nine just before the horn sounded at 2:22 pm local time.

He dropped three shots with a double bogey on the 11th and a bogey on the 15th — a stark contrast to his brilliant start with six birdies in the opening half of his round.

Yoshida was enjoying the best round of the day, shooting six-under through 14 holes by mixing an eagle, five birdies, and a lone bogey so far.

Two-time JGTO No. 1, Imahira, also put himself in contention by going four-under for the day after 15 holes, one stroke ahead of veteran Shingo Katayama. Katayama shot up to solo fourth from his starting position of tied-32nd with an impressive bogey-free scorecard containing five birdies through 15.

Katayama, 50, is seeking his third victory in the tournament after having previously triumphed in 2008 and 2015.

Justin De Los Santos of the Philippines, among the 24 players who managed to complete their play, carded a 69 to provisionally tie for fifth at four-under overall with five others, including South Korea's Song Young-han (two-under through 17) and two-time champion Hideto Tanihara (two-under through 14).

Ohori was able to finish his round but battled to a 72, slipping to provisional T15, while Kodai has his work cut out for him after going three-over through 11.

With visibility continuing to be poor following the first suspension, officials eventually called off the second round at 3:05 pm, with the remaining 61 players scheduled to resume action at 7:15 am tomorrow.

The third round will not start before 10 am.