Aggressive Approach Pays Off for Muto

Toshinori Muto savours his triumph.

Kobe, Japan: Toshinori Muto collected his first Asian Tour title in style after closing with a second straight seven-under-par 64 at the Panasonic Open Championship.

The 41-year-old Japanese ended a winless streak stretching back four years after firing eight birdies against a solitary bogey.

His winning total of 21-under-par 263 set a record for the lowest 72-hole score in the tournament that was celebrating its 10th edition.

Muto said: “I am really glad that I played well today. It has been four years. It is a really long time.”

Starting the day with a one-shot lead, Muto pulled away from the chasing pack at the Higashi Hirono Golf Club. His four-shot triumph matched the tournament’s largest winning margin, set by Daisuke Maruyama in 2009.

Shugo Imahira, who entered the week as the second highest-ranked Japanese on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), closed with three straight birdies for a 67 to take second spot. Home favourite Ryo Ishikawa carded a 66 to finish a further stroke back in third.

Muto added: “I knew Ryo was chasing, by listening to the spectators’ cheers. But I told myself to just play my game. Some players tell me that I am too aggressive sometimes, always aiming at the pins. But that is my style and I am glad that I am here right now with the trophy.”

Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand battled to a 71 to finish fourth 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.

Thais Poom Saksansin and Panuphol Pittayarat secured second and third places on the Panasonic Swing rankings, earning US$50,000 and US$30,000 respectively from the reward scheme.

The 150 million yen (aboput US$1.33 million) event, co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour Organisation, was 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).

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