Tournament article

Asia Pacific Open Golf Championship Diamond Cup Golf 2022

Imahira shines by winning Diamond Cup

Imahira shines by winning Diamond Cup

Two-time Order of Merit champion Shugo Imahira continued his remarkable record of winning at least one title in every season since 2017 after being crowned the winner of the Asia-Pacific Open Golf Championship Diamond Cup on Sunday.


The 29-year-old, who began the day in tied fifth and one shot off the pace, shot a two-under-par 68 at the Oarai Golf Club to finish at eight-under-par 272 to win by just one shot from a group of four players tied for second that included current money leader Yuto Katsuragawa.


Imahira grabbed the lead at 15th from Katsuragawa, who at one stage appeared to be heading towards a second victory of the season before he conceded a bogey on the same hole.


Imahira started well with two birdies at the fourth and sixth, but a dropped shot at the par-three eighth halted his good run.


But it did little to dampen his spirit as he made six consecutive pars before scoring his third birdie of the day and pounced on Katsuragawa's misfortune.


Imahira was pleased to have nailed his sixth JGTO title early in the season.


"I'm very happy with this victory. I didn't get any good results so far this year, so I'm glad to be able to win early here," said Imahira, whose last victory came at the Fujisankei in last year's September.


Apart from pocketing ¥20,000,000 to vault him to fifth on the money list, the victory also secured him a third appearance in The Open at St Andrews this July.


After two missed cuts, he intends to break the duck this time.


"This year's Open will be held at St Andrews. I've been longing to play there since I was a boy. I'm so happy to be finally able to compete there.


"My goal for The Open is to make the cut before anything else. Once I'm able to do that, my goal will then be to finish as high as possible on the leaderboard."


Buoyed by a good performance this week, Imahira also hopes to carry the momentum into the US Open Sectional Qualifying in Japan on May 23.


Katsuragawa, who missed out on his second victory of the season, said the pressure in the closing stretch got the better of him.


But he's taking the defeat in his stride.


"It was quite difficult today. I couldn't improve my score. There was also pressure," said Katsuragawa.


"The last three holes were also tricky, and I couldn't read the speed of the green. Things just didn't work out.

"I knew that there was only one stroke difference at the 18th, and I only stood a chance with a birdie. I had no choice but to attack."


"This course can be very rewarding, and you can only gain something from experience.


"I'm glad that I can continue to contend for a win.


"I want to be a player who can win many wins on JGTO and internationally."


Youngster Kosuke Suzuki stole the show on the final day with a sizzling 63 to finish a creditable second alongside Hiroshi Iwata (68) and Kaito Onishi (70), echoing the tournament's objective of enhancing the junior golf development through the competition of the highest level.


New Zealand's Kazuma Kobori was the other amateur who gave his more illustrious professional competitors a run for their money after tying for sixth with last year's Rikuya Hoshino on 274 following a closing 69.