Kansai Open Golf Championship 2024

Hataji makes JGTO breakthrough with victory at Kansai Open Golf Championship

Hataji makes JGTO breakthrough with victory at  Kansai Open Golf Championship

Takahiro Hataji, in his 10th year as a professional, finally clinched his maiden JGTO victory by rebounding from a disastrous start and securing a three-shot win over Yuta Sugiura at the Kansai Open Golf Championship in Shiga Prefecture on Sunday.

Hataji, trailing by one shot entering the final round at MeishinYokaichi Country Club, crafted a three-under-par 67 to finish with a winning total of 14-under 266.

The 30-year-old displayed resilience with five birdies to counter his early bogeys on the third and fourth holes.

This triumph allowed Hataji to make amends after finishing as runner-up to Taiga Semikawa in the same tournament last year at Izumigaoka Country Club in Osaka, which stood as his best JGTO result until then.

Ironically, Hataji had earlier ended his quest for a maiden professional win abroad by capturing the New Zealand Open title, a tournament jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGA Tour of Australasia, in March.

Despite the win, Hataji had been struggling to make headway back home, with only three top 30 finishes in the first four tournaments of the season.

However, perseverance paid off for Hataji, as this victory now establishes him as one of the players to watch going forward.

The penultimate round leader, Taisei Shimizu, could only manage a 72, settling for solo third on 270, one stroke behind Sugiura, who climbed from T6 with a 67.

Kensei Hirata, who was tied for second alongside Hataji at the start of the day, struggled to a 73, leaving him tied for fifth with Ryo Ishikawa (65) and Taisei Sato (67) on 272.

American Todd Baek secured a morale-boosting first top 10 finish of the season after a stellar 67 placed him in a three-way tie for eighth on 273. South Africa's Shaun Norris also notched his best outing of the year, finishing tied for 11th at a shot further back after closing with a 66.

New Zealand's Michael Hendry maintained his strong form from last week's victory, concluding the week with a 66 to finish tied for 14th place on 275.

Leading final round scores:

266: Takahiro Hataji 69-65-65-67;

269: Yuta Sugiura 68-68-66-67;

270: Taisei Shimizu 66-66-66-72;

271: Shunya Takeyasu 73-67-61-70;

272: Ryo Ishikawa 73-69-65-65, Taisei Sato 66-69-70-67, Kensei Hirata 70-61-68-73;

273: Todd Baek (US) 69-66-71-67, Yosuke Tsukada 72-68-66-67, Kohei Okada 70-68-62-73.