Major champion Adam Scott carded a final round of one-over-par 71 in tough conditions to tie for sixth alongside American Chan Kim on two-over-par 282, 12 shots behind young gun Taiga Semikawa who survived a late scare to become the Championship’s only second amateur winner in its 87-year history.
Scott, the highest-ranked player in this week’s field at world number 32, came in joint-fifth the last time he was in action in 2019.
With another tied-seventh result coming from the 2015 edition, the 42-year-old Australian now has three top-10 finishes from a total of six Japan Open appearances since debuting in 2014.
Although disappointed for not being able to mount a serious title challenge, Scott is taking plenty of positives from what he described as a “great week and fantastic tournament”.
“I had a great week, it’s been a fantastic tournament but of course, when you don’t win, it’s all the frustrations, especially on a very difficult golf course,” said the 2013 Masters champion.
“I’m disappointed with my result, but I saw a lot of good things in my game. On this incredibly tough golf course, I think my standard of play was nearly very good.
“When you’re playing at the very top level like this, it’s a very fine line between 10th place and challenging for the win.
“There are positives to take, I feel good about my game.”
Even with the 31 victories he accomplished across the globe, Scott admitted that he simply could not conquer the Sanko Golf Club’s Japan Course.
But he relished the tough challenge, adding that a national Open should always be contested at the highest standard.
“It’s what I expected, that’s how national championships are meant to be, it’s supposed to be the biggest event in the country and should demand the most out of all the players,” he said.
The thrilling final day saw Semikawa hang tough to stave off a charging Kazuki Higa and secure a two-shot win over the latter.
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Having built a comfortable six-shot lead over Higa heading into Sunday’s finale, it looked as if Semikawa was going to cruise to an effortless victory when he birdied the first two holes to race eight ahead.
But Semikawa flirted with danger after squandering four shots just before the turn, which included a triple bogey at the par-four ninth.
Another bogey dropped at the 17th saw Semikawa’s lead being trimmed to just two, but he held his nerve to save par at the last to sensationally seal his second JGTO victory on the trot.
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It came just three weeks after he pulled off a stunning win at the Panasonic Open.
“Now that I have won twice, I’m going to raise the bar even higher and expect even more from myself,” said Semikawa.
“Winning the Panasonic Open and now the Japan Open has changed my perspectives and mindset.
“I want to build on this. My dream is to win all four Majors.”