Sep 29, 2019: Japan’s Toshinori Muto collected his first Asian Tour title in style after closing with a second straight seven-under-par 64 to win by four shots at the Panasonic OPEN Golf Championship on Sunday.
Indian golfers Ajeetesh Sandhu, Rahil Ganjgee and Viraj Madappa suffered rough closing after scoring 75, 74 and 75 respectively in the final round. Ajeetesh tied at 37th place, Rahil lying at T50 and Viraj close a T68.
The 41-year-old Muto halted a winless streak of four years as he fired eight birdies against a bogey to cap a winning total of 21-under-par 263, setting a record lowest 72-hole score in the tournament, which is celebrating its 10th edition this week.
Starting the day with a one-shot lead, Muto rode on his fine form to pull away from the chasing pack at the Higashi Hirono Golf Club. His four-shot triumph would also match the largest winning margin record in the tournament set by Daisuke Maruyama in 2009.
Shugo Imahira, who entered the week as the highest-ranked Japanese in the field, came in runner-up after closing with three straight birdies to sign for a 67. Home favourite Ryo Ishikawa carded a commendable 66 to finish one shot shy of Imahira in third.
Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand battled to a 71 to finish in fourth place on 271. The result was enough to help him win the second edition of the Panasonic Swing series with 3,021 points and take home a top bonus prize of US$70,000.
Thai duo Poom Saksansin and Panuphol Pittayarat secured second and third places on the final Panasonic Swing rankings, earning US$50,000 and US$30,000 respectively from the reward scheme.
The ¥150,000,000 (approx. US$1,338,067) event, co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO), is the concluding leg of the 2018/19 Panasonic Swing.
The Panasonic Swing is based on an aggregate point ranking earned by players at the following five tournaments – 2018 Thailand Open, 2018 Panasonic Open India, 2018 Indonesian Masters, 2019 Maybank Championship (Malaysia) and 2019 Panasonic Open Golf Championship (Japan).
Did you know?
- Toshinori Muto started playing golf when he was a kid. His family from his mother side owned a driving range back then.
- The 41-year-old Muto turned professional in 2001. With this victory at the Panasonic OPEN Golf Championship, Muto is now a seven-time winner on the Japan Golf Tour. His last victory was the 2015 ISPS HANDA Global Cup.
- Muto would take home a winner’s prize purse of ¥30,000,000 (approx. US$267,613), thanks to his victory at the Higashi Hirono Golf Club.
- He is the second Japanese, following Yosuke Asaji, to win on the Asian Tour this season.
- Muto successfully recaptured the trophy on home soil after India’s Rahil Gangjee became only the second foreign player to win the tournament last year.
- Prior to this week, Muto was ranked 519th on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR). His career-best position was 102nd at the end of 2012.
- Muto needed only 25 putts in his solid rounds of 64 today.
- Shugo Imahira topped the Merit rankings on the Japan Golf Tour in 2018. He was a former member of the Asian Tour in 2016 and 2017.
- He entered the week in 72nd place on the latest Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) as the second highest-ranked Japanese in the world. The 26-year-old, who hails from Saitama, is the highest-ranked Japanese in the 132-man field this week.
- Imahira’s runner-up finish would mark his fourth consecutive top-10 finish on the Japan Golf Tour and second straight one on the Asian Tour.
- Ryo Ishikawa won his first Japan Golf Tour event, the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup, when he was only 15 years 8 months and 3 days old.
- The 28-year-old Ishikawa was playing that event as an amateur in his first Japan Golf Tour start, and winning the tournament made him the youngest winner ever on the Japan Golf Tour.
- Ishikawa turned professional in 2008 and by the end of the year he had become the youngest ever player to reach the top 100 of the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR), ending the year ranked 60th.
- After a few years on the PGA Tour, Ishikawa returned to play full time on the Japan Golf Tour in 2018.
- Ishikawa won this year’s Japan PGA Championship and Shigeo Nagashima Invitational SEGASAMMY Cup in consecutive starts on the Japan Golf Tour.
- Jazz Janewattananond is the only player to have won more than once on the Asian Tour so far this season. He claimed his third title at the season-opening Singapore Open in January and secured his fourth victory at the Kolon Korea Open in June.
- At the age of 23 years 6 months and 27 days, Jazz becomes the youngest ever player to achieve four wins on Tour. India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar held the record previously after he won his fourth title in 2012 at the age of 24.
- Jazz entered the week in 60th position on the OWGR and he was the highest-ranked player in the talented field this week.
- Apart from the two victories, Jazz has now notched six top-10 finishes on the Asian Tour this season, following his solo fourth result at the Panasonic OPEN Golf Championship. He would extend his lead on the Order of Merit with a season’s haul of US$833,524.
- Jazz also enjoyed a tied-14th place finish at the PGA Championship in June which was the best-ever result achieved by a Thai player at the PGA Championship.