Tournament article

Japanese trio trails Quayle by four

Japanese trio trails Quayle by four

All eyes will be on the Japanese trio of Shintaro Kobayashi, Shingo Katayama and Ryuichi Oiwa, currently tied for second on eight-under-par 208 total, when they return for the final round of the Gateway to the Open Mizuno Open on Sunday.

 

Besides vying for a ticket to the 150th Open, the home fans will be rooting for them to overtake current third round leader Anthony Quayle and maintain the local players' domination on JGTO intact this season.

 

To date, the first six tournaments have produced no international winner yet.

 

Of the three, Shintaro Kobayashi will be the one to watch tomorrow as his wind-tackling ability is set to be put to the test once again at JFE Setonaikai Golf Club.

In the penultimate round today, he impressed with four-under-par 68 for the best score of the day.

 

A buoyed Kobayashi declared his confidence is currently sky high and hopes to ride on that momentum to claim his JGTO breakthrough and punch his ticket to St Andrews.

 

"I'm 120% satisfied with my today's performance. It was tough out there, but I managed to get all things under control and made five birdies," said Kobayashi, 35, whose closest attempt to victory was coming in outright second at the 2016 Mynavi ABC Championship. 

 

"Obviously, the ultimate aim is to go to The Open and make my sponsors proud."

 

As for veteran Katayama, one of the most decorated JGTO players with 31 victories to his name, he has preferred to keep his expectations low, although there's a likelihood of him ending a five-year title drought.

 

The 49-year-old shot a 70 following a round of three birdies- all coming from his outward nine and a bogey.

 

"I'm not thinking about anything at all. I would be happy to be able to just walk up to the 18th hole," he said.

 

"Today, the wind was so strong, and I find it very tough to hit it to the green. As one of the older players in the field, it's very hard for me. I managed one bunker save on the 17th. I'm so happy with that.

 

"I'll be playing with Ryo Ishikawa tomorrow. I look forward to that, and it's going to be fun."

Oiwa, who co-led with Quayle after the second round, lost ground following a rough day where he bogeyed four times, with three shots being dropped in the six-hole stretch on four, eight and nine.

 

But three birdies, including at the last, salvaged him a share of second place, which is crucial for him to slug it out for the four coveted berths to St. Andrews this July.