Sunday, September 27, 2009

Maruyama wins Panasonic Open - first in four years

Kyoto , September 27: Japan ’s Daisuke Maruyama ended a four-year title drought with a four-stroke triumph at the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open on Sunday.
Maruyama battled to a three-over-par 74 in tough conditions at the Joyo Country Club to beat China ’s Liang Wen-chong, Korea ’s Kim Kyung-tae and countryman Yuta Ikeda in the US$1.5 million event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour.
It was Maruyama’s first victory since the 2005 Fuji Sankei Classic and it also earned him an exemption into the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai in November which world number one Tiger Woods and Asia ’s first Major champion Yang Yong-eun will headline.
Holding an overnight four-shot lead, the 38-year-old was never really threatened by the chasing pack despite not shooting a single birdie on a day when pins were tucked in devilish spots and swirling winds threw players off course.
“I’d forgotten about the winning feeling. So this feels really good now,” said Maruyama. “I thought that if I could play the front nine in even par, I would win but then I went on to bogey the ninth hole.
“Looking back now, I think making those pars on 10, 11 and 12 were crucial as they are tough holes and it kept me in front. I didn’t feel at ease at all throughout the back nine until I reached the 18th green,” added Maruyama, whose winning total of eight-under-par 276 earned him a cheque of US$320,444 and a two-year’s exemption on the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour.
Liang, Asia’s number one in 2007, settled for his career eighth top-three finish in Japan after closing with a 73. He briefly moved to within three shots of Maruyama with a birdie on nine but three bogeys over his next four holes derailed his title hopes.
“Again, the back nine was not good for me,” lamented the Chinese ace, who was seven- over-par on the back nine this week.
“After the birdie on nine, I thought I had a chance to make up ground on Daisuke but I bogeyed 10 and 12 which ended my chances. It was quite disappointing to bogey 10 as I only had 100 yards to the green but found the bunker and then missed my par putt from six feet. I also missed from a similar distance on 12 and by then it was over for me.”
The 23-year-old Kim, who won the Maekyung Open on the Asian Tour two years ago, shot a 74 to settle for his second straight tied second finish in Japan . Early bogeys on the third and fourth holes left him with an uphill battle and the Korean was then left to hang on to his overnight second position.
“At the start of the day, I thought I could have a chance but I bogeyed the third and fourth hole. After that, it was already over for me and I was just trying to hold on to my position. I failed to save par from eight feet on the third and then found the bunker at the fourth.
“The pins were really tough today and I only had look at birdies on three or four holes. I’m still happy with this result as I’ve been playing really well the past few weeks,” said Kim.
Japanese star Ryo Ishiakawa birdied his closing two holes for a 72 and finished in tied 16th position on 286.

276 - Daisuke Maruyama (JPN) 69-66-67-74
280 - Yuta Ikeda (JPN) 68-73-67-72, Kim Kyung-tae (KOR) 70-70-66-74, Liang Wen-chong (CHN) 68-70-69-73
282 - Kim Hyung-sung (KOR) 68-68-71-75
283 - Tadahiro Takayama (JPN) 70-72-70-71
284 - Unho Park (AUS) 71-69-73-71, Yuji Igarashi (JPN) 67-75-70-72
285 - Scott Hend (AUS) 72-71-72-70, Michio Matsumura (JPN) 71-74-72-68, Ted Oh (KOR) 70-72-70-73, Komei Oda (JPN) 68-75-69-73, Noh Seung-yul (KOR) 67-74-70-74, Toshinori Muto (JPN) 74-64-70-77, Yusaku Miyazato (JPN) 75-69-64-77
286 - Ryo Ishikawa (JPN) 73-72-69-72, Kazuhiro Yamashita (JPN) 75-69-72-70, Toru Taniguchi (JPN) 68-72-73-73, Jyoti Randhawa (IND) 72-68-70-76

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