Tournament article

Casio World Open Golf Tournament 2023

Nabetani makes timely entry into winner's circle with victory at Casio World Open

Nabetani makes timely entry into winner's circle with victory at Casio World Open

Taichi Nabetani, in his 12th year as a professional, finally secured his long-awaited maiden JGTO victory by capturing the Casio World Open title on Sunday.

The 27-year-old achieved this in thrilling fashion, birdieing three of his last four holes to card a final-round 68, finishing on 14-under 274 at the Kochi Kuroshio Country Club.

This put him one shot ahead of South Korea's Song Young-han (66) and Ren Yonezawa (68), who both finished with a total score of 275.

Keita Nakajima eagled the last hole, closing with a 68 and securing the fourth-place spot at 12-under.

This performance was enough to secure him the coveted season-long JGTO Prize Money King title, having established an unassailable lead over second-placed Takumi Kanaya.

Kanaya, needing to outperform Nakajima this week to extend the money list battle to next week's season-ending Golf Nippon Series JT Cup, could only muster a 72, finishing in a three-way tie for seventh on 10-under.

Nabetani, who entered professional golf at the age of 16, expressed that it was a dream come true for him.

"Finally, the realisation has just hit me. Until a moment ago, I seriously thought it might be a dream. It's really a reality," said a delighted Nabetani.

"The feeling of disbelief still lingers. Winning, the goal I've been aiming for since I was a child, has become a reality. It's the goal I've pursued since childhood, and achieving it on the tour, fulfilling that goal is the most joyous thing for me.

"It took a really long time. I'm 27 now, and it took a total of 11 years. I suddenly recalled that my transition to becoming a professional golfer was on 25th September, and it had been 11 years since that day."

Song continued to underline his status as the best international competitor by notching his fifth runner-up finish of the year.

He shot the day's best 66 after bouncing back from a bogey on the third hole with an eagle on the 10th hole and five birdies.

Compatriots Yang Ji-ho and Park Sang-hyun made it a good day for the Koreans by placing themselves in the top five after registering 68 and 69, respectively, to be joint fifth on 276.

Leading final round scores:

274: Taichi Nabetani 69-69-68-68;

275: Song Young-han (Kor) 66-70-73-66, Ren Yonezawa 68-70-69-68;

276: Keita Nakajima 70-71-67-68;

277: Yang Ji-ho (Kor) 63-73-73-68, Park Sang-hyun (Kor) 70-71-67-69;

278: Todd Baek (US) 66-72-68-72, Takumi Kanaya 66-72-68-72, Yusaku Hosono 71-67-68-72;

279: Ryuko Tokimatsu 70-73-69-6, Eric Sugimoto 68-69-70-72.