No pain too overwhelming for JT Cup contender Brad Kennedy

Brad Kennedy- TheGolfingHub
Sunday marks the fourth occasion where Brad Kennedy will be heading into the final round in the top-three position after failing to convert any of his previous three chances this season. Photo: JGTO

Australia’s Brad Kennedy continued to defy the pain barrier to keep himself firmly in contention for victory at the Golf Nippon Series JT Cup.

The 48-year-old carded a solid one-under-par 69 to trail leader Satoshi Kodaira by just two shots heading into the final day of the season-ending event.

Related: Beware the injured golfer as Brad Kennedy surges ahead

Being in a good position to possibly pick up his fourth JGTO title, Kennedy hopes that lady luck will finally smile on him on the day when it mattered most.

Sunday marks the fourth occasion where Kennedy will be heading into the final round in the top-three position after failing to convert any of his previous three chances this season.

He finished third at the Mizuno Open, tied second at the ASO IIZUKA Challenged Golf Tournament and tied fifth at the Heiwa PGM Championship.

“I just hadn’t had the momentum to get me going during the weekend. It wasn’t that I’m playing badly or hitting bad shots,” he said.

“I’ll need a bit of luck to carry me through.”

Kennedy picked up four birdies, two on each half, to offset three dropped shots midway through the round to finish the day in a two-way tie for second place on nine-under 201.

Kodaira, seeking to win the season finale for the second time since 2018, seized the top spot on 11-under following a 67.

American Chan Kim, the 2020 winner, fired a 67 to give himself an outside chance to reclaim the title, sitting in a three-way tie for eighth at five shots off the pace.

“I got to go out there with a real purpose tomorrow, it’s not so much about putting pressure on Satoshi but to deliver the shots I need to deliver and make some putts,” said Kennedy, who hurt his knee earlier this week.

Kim was pleased with how he fought back from a disastrous 72 on Friday as he rode on a strong front-nine display where he birdied three times.

He dropped his lone bogey on the 13th but regained the shot back at the 17th.

“I played pretty well today, just that the back nine, I didn’t really get anything going,” he said.

“At least it was nice to get to three-under through eight holes.

“I just want to give myself a chance tomorrow. It’s going to play tough. Hopefully, I can shoot a pretty decent low round and kind of move my way up on the leaderboard.

“Whatever happens now between me and the last group I can’t do anything about it. I’m just going to go back and relax and mentally prepare for tomorrow.”

Kodaira, chasing for his eighth JGTO title, has refused to get carried away despite being in the lead.

“My aim is to win but I don’t want to think too much about it even though I have a two-shot lead,” he said.

“It’s important not to see the leaderboard too much as that will be a distraction.”