Gate Way To The Open Mizuno Open 2024

Kinoshita ends three-year title drought with Mizuno Open triumph

Kinoshita ends three-year title drought with Mizuno Open triumph

Ryosuke Kinoshita, the joint overnight leader, capitalised on his early momentum to win the Gateway to The Open Mizuno Open, ending a three-year drought on the JGTO Tour. 

Kinoshita’s third triumph on the Tour earned him a coveted ticket to the 152nd Open at Royal Troon in July, marking his second appearance following his debut in 2021.

Kinoshita's early birdies on the second and third holes proved decisive as he concluded with a one-under-par 71, securing a two-shot victory over South Korea's Koh Gun-taek at the JFE Setonaikai Golf Club on Sunday. 

Despite a valiant late charge, 24-year-old Koh's modest 70 left him falling short of claiming his second title, following his earlier triumph at the Shinhan Donghae Open last year. 

Nonetheless, his performance earned him a prized spot in a major tournament for the first time.

Yuto Katsuragawa also celebrated a memorable day, clinching the third and final ticket for The Open Championship as the highest-ranked player on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) among the three tied for third place. 

Katsuragawa's final round of 71 saw him sharing third place with Mikumu Horikawa (71) and Shugo Imahira (74) on a total of 279. 

However, he held the advantage with a world ranking of 177, ahead of Imahira (303) and Horikawa (371). 

According to the rules, in the event of a tie, the right for the last qualification spot is determined by the world ranking order.

Kinoshita expressed his joy at returning to the winner's circle after his last victory at the Dunlop Srixon Fukushima Open in June 2021. 

“It felt like my first victory all over again because it's been such a long three years. I'm truly delighted about this win. Over the past three years, I've faced numerous challenges and grown stronger, which ultimately led me to triumph in this tournament. It was a tough journey, but this victory feels like validation for all the struggles,” said Kinoshita. 

He boldly declared that his upcoming journey to Royal Troon holds more significance than just participation, setting his sights ambitiously on victory. 

“Having experienced it three years ago, I had a strong desire to return to this place once more. I never imagined I'd have the chance to win and come back, especially since I only managed to qualify last time," said Kinoshita.

“But now, with just 50 days left, I'm determined to prepare with all my might and set my sights on the goal of winning.”

Koh was elated to have secured his first-ever major appearance. 

"I never imagined this, I'm thrilled to have qualified for The Open," said Koh. 

"It will be my first time competing in a major event. Competing with world-class players, I hope to learn as much as I can.”

For Katsuragawa, the season just got even better after his landmark victory in the DP World Tour jointly-sanctioned ISPS HANDA Championship last month, earning him the privilege to play in Europe. 

His solid performance in Japan has served as excellent preparation as he shifts his focus to European tournaments for the remainder of the season.

"I find seizing opportunities to be challenging, so being able to grasp this one feels incredibly rewarding. I was definitely thrilled," he said. 

"Being in top form before heading to Europe gives me confidence. Whether I can adapt to overseas courses remains to be seen, but I'm hopeful.

"The chance to participate in more tournaments in Europe will allow me to hone my skills further. I hope to go to The Open as a much-improved player.”

Leading final round scores:

276: Ryosuke Kinoshita 69-66-70-71;

278: Koh Gun-taek (Kor) 67-74-67-70;

279: Yuto Katsuragawa 69-69-70-71, Mikumu Horikawa 64-71-73-71, Shugo Imahira 65-74-66-74;

280: Kota Kaneko 67-72-74-67, Taiga Sugihara 67-73-73-67, Taisei Shimizu 71-70-71-68, Shota Yoshimoto 72-67-73-68, Scott Vincent (Zim) 73-69-69-69, Tomoyo Ikemura 68-69-70-73, Kazuki Higa 69-70-69-72;

281: Mikiya Akutsu 64-73-74-70, Shaun Norris (Rsa) 70-69-67-75.