Japan’s Tetsuji Hiratsuka completed a dream week when he battled to victory by signing off with a four-under 67 to win the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open yesterday.
Hiratsuka closed with a eight-under 276 total to finish two shots clear of South Koreans S.K Ho and Kim Do-hoon who signed for matching 279s at the ￥150,000,000 (US$1.7 million) event jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour.
South Africa’s Jbe Kruger could not find the finish that he wanted again when he closed with 73 to take a share of fourth place alongside Japan’s Daisuke Maruyama, Hiroyuki Fujita, Toshinori Muto and India’s Jeev Milkha Singh at the Biwako Country Club.
Starting the day four shots back in equal sixth place, Hiratsuka got off poorly with an opening bogey, but responded quickly with a birdie on the par-four third. He turned in 35 after another bogey on the sixth hole and birdie on the par-four eighth.
However, a magical eagle-two on the par-four 11th lifted him up to second place, one back from Ho with seven holes to play. Hiratsuka then snatched the lead with a vital birdie on the 13th, before another birdie on the 16th sealed his entry into the winner’s circle again.
“This has been a dream come true. I always like to win at home and I’m glad it finally happened his week,” Hiratsuka said.
“Nothing beats the home crowd cheering you on and it really motivated me to give my best today,” added the four-time Asian Tour winner.
Ho, who was the second-round leader, was disappointed that he could not mount a serious title charge.
The South Korean conceded that he was let down by two bogeys in his closing 17th and 18th holes which could have forced a play-off with Hiratsuka.
“I was playing quite steadily today and it just all went wrong on the closing stretch,” Ho said.
Meanwhile Kruger was left to rue another missed opportunity of lifting his first Asian Tour title.
The 25-year-old, who held the opening round lead, conceded that his driving had let him down and was visibly upset that he could not earn his maiden breakthrough.
“Today was really bad. I just couldn’t find the fairways the whole week. I was hitting the driver all over the place,” Kruger said “If someone told me that I’ll get another top 10 at the start of the week, I would have taken it, but to end up like this is never nice.”
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‘FUN TIME’: Denver’s Nikola Jokic said that his team would not accept that anyone else is better than them and the opposition need to play much better than they do Just about everyone had LA versus LA written in for the NBA’s Western Conference finals, but the resilient Denver Nuggets have crashed the party. Behind Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2009 to face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Game 1 is scheduled to be played tomorrow. This was no ordinary road. The Nuggets fell behind 3-1 in their first-round series against the Utah Jazz before bouncing back with three straight victories. Then they went down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round before winning in Game 7
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