Shenzhen, China [March 20]: Keeping his cool in the heat of battle, Yuki Kamasu continued Japan’s recent domination of the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final with an assured final-round display at Mission Hills.
Tokyo, Japan (November 9): With a compelling display of power and poise, Yuki Shino repelled the challenge of Japan Women’s Amateur champion Minami Hiruta to claim a notable victory in the Faldo Series Japan Championship.
Tokyo, Japan (December 1): Nasa Hataoka maintained her sparkling run of form to claim victory in the Faldo Series Asia Japan Championship.
The 21-year-old underlined his potential with a polished performance over the acclaimed Nick Faldo-designed Faldo Course at Mission Hills Shenzhen, edging Czech Republic’s Simon Zach in a dramatic sudden-death play-off.
Having passed one of the most severe examinations of his fledgling golfing career with flying colours, 17-year-old Shino will now go on to spearhead Japan’s bid for a third Faldo Series Asia Grand Final triumph in four attempts next March.
The upwardly mobile teenager fully justified her recent leap to 131st in the R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking [WAGR] for females by keeping a strong field at bay in the 16th leg of the record-breaking 2015-2016 Faldo Series Asia season.
One shot ahead overnight, Kamasu closed with a three-under 69 for a 54-hole aggregate of nine-under 207. That total was matched by Zach, who carded a 68.
Thanks to an accomplished bogey-free four-under-par 68 over the Shizu Hills Country Club course, Shino soared to the top of the leaderboard after a thrilling final-round at an event that attracted a record field of more than 200.
Showing few signs of nerves, Hataoka skilfully manoeuvred her way around the Shizu Hills Country Club course, posting rounds of 71, 72 and a closing 70.
However, it was the Japanese who prevailed in extra time with a gutsy bogey-six at 18. There, he pushed his drive into the water but quickly recovered his composure to find the green with his fourth shot.
With a 54-hole aggregate of seven-under 209, Shino ended one shot ahead of Hiruta in the overall standings and three clear of third-placed Hayuno Tateura.
That gave her a 54-hole aggregate of three-under 213 and a one-stroke victory margin from Hosho Takahashi. Suzuka Yamaguchi, who shot to fame in June when she finished second in a sectional qualifier to book herself a starting spot in the US Women’s Open, ended a further two shots back in sole possession of third spot in the overall standings.
Nonetheless, at that point, Zach, in the centre of the fairway less than 100 yards from the flag in two, appeared to hold the initiative.
A further stroke back in fourth was Kenta Endo, who led the overall standings by two going into the final round before faltering with a closing 74 that included a triple-bogey six at the short 12th.
Hataoka will now go on to spearhead Japan’s bid for a fourth Faldo Series Asia Grand Final triumph in five attempts at Mission Hills in Shenzhen next March in the presence of Sir Nick Faldo.
But he then suffered the anguish of dunking two balls in the hazard in front of the green as the chance of becoming the first non-Asian winner of the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final slipped agonisingly from his grasp.
In contrast, Shino, runner-up in May’s Japan Junior Spring Championship, hardly played a false stroke during an exemplary exhibition that saw him reel off 14 pars and four birdies.
Also flying the flag for Japan in the 10th Anniversary Faldo Series Asia Grand Final will be Ryo Katsumata (Boys’ Under-21 winner); Ibuki Yoshida (Boys’ Under-18), Hosho Takahashi (Boys’ Under-18) and Minami Hiruta, who retained her title in the Girls’ Under-21 category.
With his triumph in the ninth edition of the R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking event, Kamasu followed in the footsteps of Masamichi Ito and Mikumu Horikawa to become the tournament’s third Japanese champion in the past four years.
Hiruta chased her compatriot all the way, moving to four-under for the day and within one shot of the pace-setter following her fifth birdie of the day at the long 14th. But like Shino, she was only able to par her way home.
But it will be 16-year-old Hataoka upon whom attention is sure to focus at Mission Hills.