Second win in five weeks, Riki Kawamoto JGTO’s poster boy

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Riki Kawamoto - TheGolfingHub
Riki Kawamoto's win saw him become the only four multiple winners of the season after Kazuki Higa, Shugo Imahira and Yuki Inamori. Photo: JGTO

Riki Kawamoto calmly rolled in a clutch putt for birdie from 13 feet at the final hole to claim the Vantelin Tokai Classic on Sunday for his second JGTO title in five weeks as Adam Bland of Australia emerged the top international finisher in tied-ninth.

Kawamoto rallied with a final round of two-under-par 69 at the Miyoshi Country Club to finish at 13-under 271 and deny overnight leader Yuto Katsuragawa his second title of the season by just one shot.

Kawamoto, the Sansan KBC Augusta champion in late August, capitalised on Katsuragawa’s meltdown on the front nine, erasing the latter’s four-shot advantage and turning it into a two-horse race.

Kawamoto mixed two birdies and a bogey to turn in 34, while Katsuragawa dropped four shots in a three-hole stretch starting from number six with a bogey-bogey-double bogey streak undoing a birdie on the second.

Their battle continued to be closely contested to the 18th hole where Kawamoto had the last laugh after surviving a roller-coaster back-nine where he made an eagle and two birdies but also conceded three bogeys.

Katsuragawa, who marked his less eventful inward nine with a birdie and a bogey, failed to force a tie-breaker after he missed out on a birdie attempt from a nearly identical distance as Kawamoto.

Katsuragawa closed with a 74 to settle for outright second at 12-under 272, three shots ahead of Kazuki Higa (275) and Yuta Ikeda (69).

Satoshi Kodaira carded a 69 to finish fifth by himself, six shots adrift of Kawamoto.

Kawamoto’s win saw him become the only four multiple winners of the season after Higa, Shugo Imahira and Yuki Inamori.

The second success in such a short period has whetted Kawamoto’s appetite to strive for more wins.

“I didn’t expect to get a second win so quickly. I am very happy!” said Kawamoto.

“Surrounded by a lot of spectators today, the applause and cheers gave me a lot of strength.”

“Now that I have won twice, I  want to ride on the confidence to bring in more victories. I hope to end the season with three or four wins.”

Bland, 42, notched his second top-10 finish in three starts after closing with a solid 69 to tie for ninth on 279.

Bland, who came in joint eighth at the ANA Open two weeks ago, had four birdies to offset two blemishes.