Kansai Open Golf Championship 2024

Shimizu on course to win Kansai Open Golf Championship

Shimizu on course to win Kansai Open Golf Championship

Taisei Shimizu will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Kansai Open Golf Championship after firing a third successive four-under-par 66 on Saturday.

The 25-year-old put himself in prime position for his first JGTO victory after mixing six birdies with two bogeys at Meishin Yokaichi Country Club in Shiga Prefecture, sitting one shot clear of Takahiro Hataji (65) and Kensei Hirata (68) with a three-round total of 12-under 198.

Kohei Okada blitzed the course with an eagle, seven birdies, and one bogey to surge to fourth place on 200, while Shunya Takeyasu was just a further shot back in fifth after posting a sublime 61, courtesy of a late birdie spree that saw him gain seven shots on the back nine.

This is the first time Shimizu has led going into the final round, and he will be looking to convert his recent consistent performances into a career breakthrough.

Shimizu has displayed considerable promise early in the season, with two top-10 finishes so far – tie for fourth at the Token Homemate Cup and a tie for sixth at last week's For The Players by The Player.

He has maintained this momentum throughout the week and has not finished a day lower than second place after three rounds of the tournament.

Hirata, the second-day leader, made a strong comeback after two early bogeys over seven holes, responding with six birdies against two more dropped shots to keep himself firmly in contention.

Hataji, who started the day in third, also maintained his solid performance, but it wasn't until the second half of his round that he made his move.

After turning in an even-par 34, he eagled the par-five 10th and added three more birdies on the 12th, 14th, and 16th to keep the pressure on Shimizu.

Justin De Los Santos of the Philippines recorded his strongest showing of the week, reaching the 54-hole mark at 206.

He shares the 14th spot with several others, including American Todd Baek, positioning them both as the top-performing foreign competitors.

Leading third round scores:

198: Taisei Shimizu 66-66-66;
199: Takahiro Hataji 69-65-65, Kensei Hirata 70-61-68;
200: Kohei Okada 70-68-62;
201: Shunya Takeyasu 73-67-61;
202: Taiki Yoshida 70-67-65, Yuta Sugiura 68-68-66;
203: Tomoharu Otsuki 67-70-66, Shugo Imahira 71-65-67, Tomoyasu Sugiyama 67-69-68.