Tournament article

Kansai Open Golf Championship 2022

Higa holds firm to win Kansai Open Golf Championship

Higa holds firm to win Kansai Open Golf Championship

Higa holds firm to win Kansai Open Golf Championship

Kazuki Higa held on strongly right until the final hole to capture the Kansai Open Golf Championship for the first time, denying Rikuya Hoshino's ambitious bid of becoming the first player to defend the title in 48 years.

With just a solitary one-shot lead heading down the par-five 18th hole at the Yomiuri Country Club, Higa rolled in a short putt for his ninth consecutive pars to stave off the challenge of Hoshino.

Higa, led by two overnight from Hoshino, finished with a one-under-par 70, and it was enough for him to clinch his third JGTO title with his winning total of 14-under-par 270.

Hoshino finished second for the second time since 2019 on 13-under-par, with Han Lee of the United States a further shot back in third and Genki Okada securing his best-ever finish in sole fourth place on 276.

"I'm so relieved now," said Higa, who won the last year's Shigeo Nagashima Invitational Sega Sammy Cup and 2019 RIZAP KBC Augusta for his other two wins.

"I would be lying if I say I'm not nervous. But I kept reminding myself to play solid golf and avoid making mistakes.

"It feels great to be back to winning ways again. It shows that my game is trending in the right direction."

Higa had two birdies on holes six and seven before he dropped his only shot of the day on the ninth hole to preserve a two-shot lead over Hoshino, who also made two birdies and a bogey at the turn.

With Higa holding on for par, Hoshino somehow managed to recover from a bogey on 12 with two birdies on 13 and 16 to pile the pressure on his playing partner.

However, Hoshino couldn't make further ground in the last two holes to extend the battle into a playoff.

Taiga Semikawa, the surprise second round leader, endured a tough day as he closed with a 77 to slip from third to finishing tied-17th.