It was double joy for Ryuko Tokimatsu when he recorded the first hole-in-one in his JGTO career to grab a share of the third round lead at the Asia Pacific Open Golf Championship on Saturday.
The 28-year-old aced the 165-yard par-three fourth hole at Oarai Golf Club en route to a four-under 66 to move him to seven-under-par 203, tying with overnight leader Kaito Onishi (71), Yuto Katsuragawa (67) and Ben Campbell of New Zealand.
The ace summed up Tokimatsu's impressive round, who also birdied four times in a six-hole stretch starting from holes six to 11. It would have been flawless had it not for the lone bogey on 17.
"I'm very happy. It's the first time I aced in a professional tournament," said Tokimatsu.
"I had accomplished many hole-in-ones during unofficial play, but to be able to do it in a professional event is exceptional!"
Now that he is in the mix, Tokimatsu, who already registered two top-10 finishes this season, including a solo fourth at The Crowns two weeks ago, is pumped up to his four-year title drought.
Since his last triumph at the Kansai Open in 2018 for his third JGTO title, he has been knocking on the door on five more occasions, including finishing runner-up four times.
"I can feel that I'm getting closer to playing my best golf again," said the winner of the 2017 Bridgestone Open and 2016 Fukushima Open.
"Until last year, I was busy with my commitments as a player chairman. (Japan tournament player`s club). Now that I have more time, I can concentrate on golf."
Onishi, meanwhile, squandered a two-shot lead overnight but did enough to cling to the top spot following a 71 and remained on course for a breakthrough victory.
"Despite the tough day, I think I have a good chance tomorrow," he said.
"It's difficult to aim for a birdie on this course. The birdie chance will disappear if you bend the shot even a little.
"But I have the confidence, and my golf is in good shape. so I think I can win if I connect my shots and putts well."
If there's one player that can't be ruled out in every tournament thus far this season, it's Katsuragawa.
With the ISPS HANDA Championship crown in the bag, Katsuragawa put himself in contention once again when he posted a strong 67.
But it remains anyone's game with 14 players separated by just five shots.
Shugo Imahira and Yuki Inamori signed for 69 and 70 to sit just a shot adrift of the leaders in joint fifth.