Tournament article

Japan Open Golf Championship 2019

Shingo Katayama recalls his memorable win at Japan Open Golf Championship 11 years ago

11 years ago, at same Koga GC, Shingo Katayama has won his 25th career victory at Japan Open Golf Championship. He has earned lifetime exemption doing so.

Koga GC is known for deep and nasty roughs, small, hard and slicky small greens with potato chips like undulations.
"Toughness of the course hasn't changed, but the players that I have to fight against has changed so much. For example, on 344 yards Par 4 left to right dog leg 9th hole, 11 years ago 100 out of 100 players will lay up to 100 yards there. But nowadays, many players will take diver and fly over. The length and the levels of the players are so much higher now."

But Shingo doesn't want to be left out of the battle not just yet. He has shortened his shaft length on the 1W which he hasn't done for 20 years. He made his shaft shorter from 46 inches to 44 inches.
"May be its normal for others, but for me 44 inches are very short. But I chose to do so because I wanted to be accurate on the tee shots at the one of the most difficult and narrow course. I have tried using the club from 2nd Round last week and it is surprisingly good. My shot accuracy is so stable now."

Shingo's winning score 11 years ago was total 1 under. Runner-up, Ryo Ishikawa's score was 3 over.
"But this year, if the long hitters get on the roll, bug scores could be possible. If it turns out like that, winning score might be like 4 under, and if I could be there too, it might become a playoff. I think I could manage to do well too, I know this course to my advantages, so if few things click together, then I will have my chance too. If I could win here again, that will be more than great."

Now, 46 years old. His dream is to become No.1 in the World in Senior Tour.
After gaining his lifetime exemption with 25 victories, he added more and not the total is 31. He hasn't been able to win since 2017 ISPS HANDA Matchplay Championship, but every year he has earned enough prize money to gain the seed on his own and hasn't depended on the lifetime exemption yet.

"Who would ever though that I could play this long on the Tour? My family and even myself didn't imagine this. I am very happy to lead this golf life. I am grateful. Many of my friends in professional baseball has all retired, and the envy me that I am still playing professionally. I am really grateful that I am able to play competitively."