Imai claims wire-to-wire maiden win at Casio World Open
BY Bruce Young | Japan Tour | 2003 Casio World Open | Wrap | 30 Nov 2003
The last full field event of the 2003 Japan Golf Tour season has ended with a first time winner on the Japan Golf Tour taking the Casio World Open title, held just outside Kagoshima on the very southern point of the Japanese mainland.
Katsumune Imai, now in his fourth season on the Japan Golf Tour without a win, not only won the event, but did so in the most impressive style. He led by two following his first round 65 and from that point on no one would get close, extending his lead to four after 36 holes and to five after 54 holes.
Starting round four, it would seem that only lack of winning experience would prevent him from taking his first ever title but even that was soon discounted when he opened with a front nine 33 to lead by seven with nine to play.
Shingo Katayama and Brendan Jones would make moves on day four, and although they would threaten to close that gap over the closing holes, the winner was never in doubt and in the end Imai would win by seven strokes over Jones and Katayama who both tied for second.
Soushi Tajima, Tommy Nakajima and Korean Jong-Duck Kim finished in a share of fourth.
Imai has come close to winning previously at the Acom International in 2001 when he was part of a five way tie for second behind Kazuhiko Hosokawa. He was also twice third that year but his win here will catapult him to 14th on the money list and set up his best year ever. It also earns him a start at next week’s end of season Japan Golf Series where the top twenty on the money list play what is effectively the Tour Championship on the Japan Golf Tour. That event is played just outside Tokyo.
Brendan Jones’ strong finish today saw him alone in second and the 11.7 million yen that he earned has moved him to 6th on the money list for 2003 with 77.5 million yen or $A1.013 million.
Defending champion David Smail was 54th and Korean-born Australian Unho Park 60th.
The importance of Smail’s disappointing performance is that he is likely to miss a spot at the season ending Japan Series. He is now 21st on the money list with only the top twenty in line for a start.
The two Australians guaranteed a spot next week are Brendan Jones and Paul Sheehan who finished 17th in his rookie season.