Tokyo, Japan: Kim Kyung-tae won his fourth title this year when he claimed a three-shot victory at the Asia-Pacific Open Mitsubishi Diamond Cup.
The 29-year-old Korean holed a 10-foot birdie on the last hole to finish on two-under-par 68 for a winning total of nine-under 271 at the Y150 million (about US$1.2 million) event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour.
Japan’s Toshinori Muto, who shared the lead at one point, and Yuta Ikeda posted a 67 and 69 respectively to tie for second place while Michio Matsumura finished a further shot back on 275 at the Otone Country Club, West Course.
Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng carded a 71 to finish in tied 11th place while Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa returned with a disappointing 77 to take a share of 52nd position.
Kim, who led by two shots at the start of the round, was drawn level by a fast-charging Muto after 12 holes. The Korean birdied the par-three 13th to regain command and sealed the deal with a stylish closing birdie.
“It doesn’t matter if you are leading by a few shots. It can easily be erased so I kept to my pace. It was never going to be an easy win and it wasn’t. I didn’t see the leaderboard until the 13th hole and that’s when I saw that I was tied for the lead,” said Kim.
“I knew it was going to get harder but I didn’t want to push myself too hard. I stayed relax and I was able to get the birdie.
“On the 18th hole, I knew that Toshinori (Muto) and Yuta (Ikeda) were two shots behind and they could eagle the hole. I wanted to get a birdie there and I did. I wasn’t aware of what my playing partners did,” he said.
The victory was especially sweet for Kim, who also won this event in 2010 for his first title in Japan before it was co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour.
“I didn’t expect to win so many titles this year. I haven’t won in three years before this season started so I was hoping to win at least one tournament. I’ve come this far now and I’m really happy,” said Kim, who won his first Asian Tour title in 2007 on home soil.
Muto, a six-time winner in Japan, admitted that he let victory slip from his grasp after hitting his tee shot into the thick rough on the 14th, which resulted in a bogey.
“It was a very good chance for me to win today and I know that. When I saw that I was tied for the lead, I wanted to be aggressive but it cost me a bogey. Kim played well so he deserves the win,” said Muto.