Justin De Los Santos of the Philippines registered a career-best result on the JGTO on Sunday after a final round of nine points help him finish outright third at For The Players by The Players in Gunma.
The Los Angeles-based golfer, whose previous best finish was a solo fourth at The Gateway to The Open Mizuno Open in May, ended his week with a total of 32 points, nine behind winner Shintaro Kobayashi in the inaugural tournament contested over a Stableford format.
Players receive eight points for albatross, five for eagle and two for birdie. A point is deducted for bogey and three taken away for double bogey or worse.
De Los Santos chalked up five birdies, including two in his final four holes, to offset a bogey at The Raysum to finish three rungs higher where he was at the start of the day.
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Having claimed his fourth top-10 finish of the season, the Filipino believes it has helped him to secure full status for next season by moving up to 24th in the Money Rankings.
“I kind of like had it going earlier today but eventually lost my driver a little bit and didn’t give myself too many chances for birdie on the back nine,” said the 27-year-old, who’s competing on a limited status from last year’s Qualifying Tournament.
“I wished I could have given a better run at it. But all in all, it’s been a good week and I’m pleased with it.
“It’s always good to finish in the top five and it’s cool that I managed to got to do it in a tournament that focuses on the players.
“It’s actually an important week for me. I’m not 100% sure, but I think I’ll get into the Heiwa PGM Championships (in two weeks’ time, limited to just 96 players) and the remaining tournaments of the season, as well as having my full status sorted for next season.”
Reigning JGTO Money Ranking winner Chan Kim completed a remarkable turnaround from barely making the cut at halfway stage to finishing outright sixth.
Kim collected 10 points by mixing six birdies with two bogeys to finish on 30 points.
“I managed only two points in my first 27 holes and after 36 holes I was at 6 points. So to finish at 30 points, I actually played very well over the last two days,” said Kim.
“I think I would play the Stableford format again. It’s a different change of pace of how aggressive you can be.
“For the first two rounds, I played like a normal tournament and in the last two rounds, I just decided to play as aggressively as I can.
“It actually worked out. It’s a cool format to play.”
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Eight points were all overnight leader Kobayashi took to secure the honour as the inaugural winner of the tournament as he win by five points from second-placed Ryuichi Owa.
Kobayashi snared five birdies against two bogeys to finish with 41 points, securing his first-ever title of his career.
“It took me 14 years to get my first win on the Japan Golf Tour. Can you imagine how happy I am? I would like to say thank you to my wife and family, also all the people who
hare supported me in my golfing journey.”