Tomoharu Otsuki mounts fightback to win Panasonic Open

Tomoharu Otsuki - TheGolfinghub
Tomoharu Otsuki closed with a bogey-free six-under-par 66 at the Onotoyo Golf Club in Hyogo, finishing with a winning total of 20-under-par 268. Photo: JGTO

Tomoharu Otsuki staged a comeback to clinch the Panasonic Open Golf Championship on Sunday, winning by three shots and securing the third title of his JGTO career.

The 33-year-old closed with a bogey-free six-under-par 66 at the Onotoyo Golf Club in Hyogo, finishing with a winning total of 20-under-par 268.

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Song Young-han of South Korea and Ren Yonezawa tied for second, carding 71 and 67 respectively, while Taiga Nagano, who held the penultimate round’s joint lead with Song, ended a further shot back in fourth after shooting a 72.

For Otsuki, the triumph served as sweet redemption, especially in light of the final-day meltdown that plagued him at last year’s tournament.

During that event, Otsuki entered the final round tied for the lead but could only manage a disappointing 73.

This result dropped him to a tied-10th finish, dashing his hopes of a back-to-back victory after winning the ANA Open the previous week.

“I wasn’t in great form this season and was far from contending for victory. I felt that it would be good enough if I could finish well this week. I wasn’t really thinking about winning before starting,” said Otsuki, who missed only one cut but had just two top-10 finishes.

“I played really good golf today, something I hadn’t managed in all the tournaments I played this year, so it boosted my confidence.

“While I did win this time, it made me realise again just how hard it is to win. Even coming to the final hole with a two-shot lead, it’s always tough. Even after three wins, I think the fourth and fifth will be difficult.”

KBC Sansan Augusta champion Song lamented that a cold putter derailed his quest for a second title of the season.

However, he still expressed satisfaction after notching his second runner-up finish in consecutive weeks, and his third overall for the year.

“Today my putts didn’t drop, I even missed short ones,” said Song.

“That’s why the momentum didn’t build, and it wasn’t great. But I persevered until the end and I’m glad to have finished in second place.

“I’ve been playing well recently, and I believe I still have opportunities ahead. If possible, I’d like to win in major tournaments, like the Japan Open.”

American Todd Baek secured a rejuvenating first top-10 finish of the season, carding a 69 to tie for sixth with a total of 274.

Leading final round scores:
268: Tomoharu Otsuki 69-66-67-66;
271: Ren Yonezawa 66-66-72-67, Song Young-han (Kor) 63-67-70-71;
272: Taiga Nagano 65-67-68-72;
273: Ryutaro Nagano 63-69-70-71;
274: Eric Sugimoto 72-66-67-69, Todd Baek (US) 65-70-70-69;
275: Yosuke Tsukada 69-70-71-65, Keita Nakajima 71-69-67-68, Naoyuki Kataoka 70-66-68-71.