Shenzhen, China: 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.
The 21-year-old underlined his potential with a polished performance over the Nick Faldo-designed Faldo Course at Mission Hills Shenzhen, edging Czech Republic’s Simon Zach in a dramatic play-off.
One shot ahead overnight, Kamasu closed with a three-under 69 for a 54-hole aggregate of nine-under 207. That was matched by Zach, who carded a 68.
However, it was the Japanese who prevailed in extra time with a nervy bogey-six at 18 where he pushed his drive into the water before finding the green with his fourth.
At that point, Zach, in the centre of the fairway less than 100 yards from the flag in two, appeared to hold the initiative. 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.
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.
“This victory is important for me. It’s my first international win and is a big boost for my confidence and self-belief,” said Kamasu.
“I would like to thank Sir Nick for providing such an incredible opportunity and for hosting us all … and for sharing his knowledge and wisdom at the clinics he conducted.”
Six-time Major champion Sir Nick Faldo, Britain’s most successful golfer, said: “Yuki’s victory caps a fantastic week which has seen us bring together more than 80 young golfers from 18 countries around the world.
“The players are getting better every year and I am excited about the future as we continue our effort to grow the game of golf globally through the Faldo Series.”
American Zachary Bauchou, winner of the Faldo Series Grand Final at The Greenbrier in West Virginia, USA, last October, eagled the final hole to claim sole possession of third place, just one shot shy of joining the play-off.
Meanwhile, Zach, who was defeated by Bauchou in that play-off at The Greenbrier, had the consolation of winning the Boys’ Under-18 division.
In the Girls’ Under-21 category, victory went to Princess Mary Superal of the Philippines with a score of three-under 213. Minami Hiruta, the reigning Japan Women’s Amateur champion, was runner-up on 216.
The Girls’ Under-16 winner was Japan’s Yumi Kudo, on a countback from China’s Liu Yan and New Zealander Brooke Hamilton. All three were tied at five-over 221.
China’s Cao Sen triumphed in the Boys’ Under-16 segment thanks to a sparkling closing 68, edging out Chinese Taipei’s Tsai Kai-jen on a countback after both finished on 213.
Cao also received the Mission Hills Trophy, presented by Mission Hills Vice Chairman Tenniel Chu to the leading Chinese player.
As well as receiving the Faldo Series Asia trophy, the overall winner will be granted an exemption into an Asian Tour event. The Girls’ winner will be given a start in a Ladies European Tour event.
Both will also earn themselves an overseas trip to compete in the Faldo Series Europe Grand Final.
Supported by The R&A and Mission Hills and endorsed by the Asian Tour and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, the 2014-15 Faldo Series Asia campaign has stretched over 11 months and has been made up of 18 championships.