BMW Japan Golf Tour Championship Mori Building Cup 2024

Iwata defies age and creates history with playoff win

Iwata defies age and creates history with playoff win 

Hiroshi Iwata created history at the BMW Japan Golf Tour Championship Mori Building Cup by becoming the oldest winner in the tournament after securing a playoff victory over Ryo Ishikawa on Sunday.

This victory was Iwata's sixth on the Tour, but it was his first in a major tournament which he achieved at the age of 43.

Iwata sealed the win by parring the first extra hole at Shishido Hills Country Club.

Earlier, he navigated through a tense final round, shooting a 68 to tie with Ishikawa at 13-under-par 271 after regulation play.

Ishikawa, who began the final round five shots behind, staged a remarkable comeback with an eagle and eight birdies, countering two bogeys for a stunning 63.

Tension mounted as Iwata's round was marred by bogeys on the 14th and 17th holes, opening the door for Ishikawa, who was vying for his 19th JGTO title.

Yet, in the tiebreaker at the 18th hole, it was Iwata who held his nerve to save a par from about one meter, while Ishikawa's challenge faltered with a bogey.

Iwata, a 21-year professional, said the playoff win against the more fancied Ishikawa was an emotional one.

After all, he had never succeeded in two of his previous playoffs, losing to Toyokazu Fujishima at the 2008 Fujisankei Classic and Hideki Matsuyama at the 2014 Dunlop Phoenix Tournament.

"It was Ryo against me, and I thought most of the cheers were for Ryo. But when I went for the tee shot, I heard 'Go, Iwata!', I almost broke into tears," said Iwata.

"I've never won a playoff in my golf career but somehow I was able to relax."

With his win today, Iwata broke the record for the oldest champion at the tournament, which was set by Yuji Igarashi in 2010 at the age of 40 years and 283 days, by three years.

"Oldest champion... really? This course is really tough. It's the best. Thank you,” said Iwata, addressing the crowd during the victory ceremony.

"I'm not someone who smiles a lot, but I hope you'll continue to support me."

Last year's champion, Takumi Kanaya, and Takashi Ogiso, who were joint leaders after the third round, failed to mount a strong challenge when it mattered most.

Kanaya managed only a 70 to finish tied for fourth at 273, while Ogiso struggled with a 74, slipping to tied 12th at 276.

Ren Yonezawa impressed in the final round and found himself in contention at one stage.

However, a bogey on the last hole left him with a 67, just one shot short of making it a three-way playoff, finishing in solo third.

Leading final round scores:
271: Hiroshi Iwata 71-65-67-68 (wins at the first extra hole), Ryo Ishikawa 69-69-70-63;
272: Ren Yonezawa 67-70-68-67;
273: Kohei Okada 69-68-67-69, Kensei Hirata 67-72-66-68, Takumi Kanaya 66-69-68-70;
274: Shugo Imahira 71-67-68-68;
275: Yuki Inamori 67-67-72-69, Taisei Shimizu 70-65-70-70;
276: Yosuke Tsukada 71-72-68-65, Taiga Semikawa 69-66-70-71;
277: Daiki Imano 68-70-69-70, Takashi Ogiso 69-68-66-74