Tournament article

BMW Japan Golf Tour Championship Mori Building Cup 2023

Kanaya dedicates BMW Japan Golf Tour Championship Mori Building Cup win to cancer battling mother

Kanaya dedicates BMW Japan Golf Tour Championship Mori Building Cup win to cancer battling mother

An emotional Takumi Kanaya ended his two-year title drought on the JGTO with a two-shot victory at the BMW Japan Golf Tour Championship Mori Building Cup and dedicated his win to his mother, who has been battling breast cancer for the last 10 months.

Kanaya held his nerve to close with an even-par 71, which was enough for him to secure his first JGTO victory since the Token Homemate Cup in April 2021.

The 25-year-old made two birdies, including a crucial one on the par-four 17th, to offset a pair of late bogeys on 13 and 15. In doing so, he fended off the stiff challenges from South Korea's Song Young-han (71), Keita Nakajima (70), Hiroshi Iwata (68) and Yuki Inamori (69), to eventually win by two shots.

“My mother is battling breast cancer and this win is for her. Hopefully, it’ll go some way towards helping her with her recovery. It will make her happy.

“I was really looking forward to a win this week and I’m really happy I managed to do it. It has been a long week with the multiple weather delays. I knew I had to play really aggressively to stand a chance of winning. And I’m pleased I managed to win by two shots this week,” said Kanaya.

Kanaya’s victory netted him a ¥30,000,000 winner’s prize cheque along with a brand new BMW X7, an invitation to the BMW International Open on the DP World Tour later this month and the PGA Tour’s ZOZO Championship in October.

South Africa's Shaun Norris and Justin De Los Santos of the Philippines, meanwhile, claimed a morale-boosting top-10 finish. Norris, the 2017 champion, began Sunday's final round at the Shishido Hills Country Club, six shots adrift of Kanaya in a share of the eighth spot.

The South African left it late to birdie the 15th and 16th holes en route to carding 69 and finishing solo sixth on seven-under-par 277.

Norris, 41, can certainly afford a big smile after registering his highest placing since emerging as the Japan Open winner in 2021.

"The game actually starting to find place again, I'm starting to hit the ball and putting nicely, giving myself better chances," said Norris, a six-time JGTO winner.

"Unfortunately, I have not been able to capitalise on it this week but overall, I'm happy.

"I believe there will be more to come in the coming weeks."

Despite failing to finish with a flourish, De Los Santos was delighted with his closing 71 at the challenging Shishido Hills as his 279 total also marked his first top-10 result on the JGTO this season.

"I didn't play great today. But considering that I missed the cut each time in my previous two years here, to get a top 10 this time was very satisfying," said the 27-year-old.

"Overall, it was a good week. It's been a tough one with rain, but the course is in great condition and it held up against the weather.

"Hopefully I can progress further in the remainder of the season and I really want to try to get my first win this year."

Leading final round scores:

273: Takumi Kanaya 64-71-67-71;

275: Yuki Inamori 67-72-67-69, Hiroshi Iwata 70-69-68-68, Song Young-han (Kor) 68-69-67-71, Keita Nakajima 67-70-68-70;

277: Shaun Norris (Rsa) 68-71-69-69;

278: Ren Yonezawa 64-72-72-70, Shintaro Kobayashi 69-71-67-71;

279: Tomoharu Otsuki 67-71-71-70, Justin De Los Santos (Phi) 70-73-65-71;

280: Ryo Noro 67-74-71-68, Brendan Jones (Aus) 70-71-70-69, Takanori Konishi 68-73-68-71, Taihei Sato 69-72-68-71.