Nine years to Sunday, patience kept newly-crowned champ Ikemura afloat

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Tomoyo Ikemura waited nine years for his first win on the Japan Golf Tour. Photo: JGTO
Tomoyo Ikemura waited nine years for his first win on the Japan Golf Tour. Photo: JGTO

Tomoyo Ikemura turned professional at 18, but had to wait nine years to pull off his first professional win at the ISPS Handa Gatsu-n to tobase Tour tournament on Sunday.

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Ikemura started out T2, five shots behind the leader Yuta Uketake at the Toride Kokusai Golf Club. It was a great chase as he made four straight birdies from the 11th. After he caught up with Uketake, he went on to make back-to-back birdies on the 16th and 17th to lead by two shots.

On the 18th, he had 1-metre putt to save par. “I never felt so nervous in my life,” he said. Ikemura made the putt for the clubhouse lead at 17-under.

Ikemura waited for Uketake to finish in the final group, and it ended as his third shot landed on the green and the chance of making a chip-in for eagle was lost.

Ikemura was congratulated by fellow players but the most heartfelt words came from his caddy. “It has been such a long road, congratulations on your first victory.”

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“I had serious problems with the swing in the first half of the season, but my caddy was always besides me and cheered me on. I cannot thank her enough for the support,” said the latest champion on the Japan Golf Tour.