Fours years down, hope flickers for Brad Kennedy on JGTO

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Brad Kennedy - TheGolfingHub
Brad Kennedy's putting was his major strength on Saturday after needing just 23 putts and is hopeful of ending his victory drought with the same kind of form on the green. Photo: JGTO

Australia’s Brad Kennedy will head into the final day of the Heiwa PGM Championship just one shot off the pace as he continues to hunt for his first JGTO win in four years.

The evergreen 48-year-old’s last JGTO victory came in 2018 when he won the Shigeo Nagashima Invitational Sega Sammy Cup for his third title in Japan.

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But Kennedy finds himself within touching distance of ending that drought after a third-round 64 at the PGM Ishioka Golf Club in Ibaraki.

He hit seven birdies against a lone bogey to shoot him up to outright second on 14-under-par 196, just one shot adrift of Rikuya Hoshino, who fired a matching 64.

Kennedy’s putting was his major strength on Saturday after needing just 23 putts and is hopeful of ending his victory drought with the same kind of form on the green.

“It was nice, played very steadily in the first few holes. The breeze was a bit tricky, but two, three and four made some really nice shots into those holes,” he said.

“Hit plenty of good wedges and it was a really nice front-nine. Overall, it was a really solid day. I felt I did hit the wedges I wanted to hit, and made some good putts that were outside of 10 feet.

“Really happy with how I hit the ball, I drive it straight, but it wasn’t perfect. Hoshino played very well and there are other guys who shoot good scores too. It’s going to be a challenging day tomorrow.”

Kennedy is anticipating another tough breezy day tomorrow but he’s game for it.
“I haven’t seen the weather forecast yet, but if it’s something similar to today, the pins will be a little bit tougher,” he said.

“So, it’s going to be a bit harder to get some of the shots close. There are a couple of really strong par-fours out there, if you can manage those and take advantage with some wedges, then you can shoot a good score,

“That will be my game plan tomorrow. I will be going out there trying my best and leaving with no regret.”

Third place was shared by Aguri Iwasaki and Ryosuke Kinoshita, who sit on 13-under after respective rounds of 63 and 65.

American Chan Kim, the second-best-placed international player of the day, finished in a share of seventh place after trading four birdies with a bogey

With just four shots off the lead, there’s still plenty to play for Kim as he chases for a second victory in the tournament he previously won in 2017.