Katayama far too good at Japan PGA
BY Bruce Young | Japan Tour | 2008 Japan PGA Championship | Round Four | 18 May 2008
Shingo Katayama today won his second Japan PGA Championship and his 24th Japan Golf Tour title overall at the Japan PGA Championship at the Raysum Golf and Spa Resort north and west of Tokyo.
Through nine holes today, Katayama led by nine shots but he cruised through the final nine holes in even par while China’s Wen Chong Liang was able to close the gap over the closing stages picking up an eagle and a birdie in his closing four holes to reduce the winning margin to six.
Australian Brendan Jones recovered from a slow start to the event to finish in a share of third with Tadahiro Takayama, Daisuke Maruyama and Kazuhiko Hosakawa. Jones has moved to 6th on the 2008 Japan Tour money list behind the new leader, Katayama.
Jones was at one stage seven under for the day and 13 under for the tournament but two late bogeys would prove costly. Still for Jones it was his third top ten in four starts in season 2008 on the Japan Golf Tour.
Katayama’s win came nearly ten years after his first in 1998 at the Sanko Grand Summer Championship when he defeated, interestingly enough, his closest rival starting today, Kazuhiko Hosakawa in a playoff. Hosakawa appeared a possible threat early on today when he eagled his second hole but fell away over the closing stages of the tournament to finish in the share of third some 11 shots behind the winner.
The 35-year-old Katayama led by seven heading into round four and with birdies at the 4th and 6th holes there was little anyone could do in terms of a realistic chance of victory. Hosokawa and China’s Wen-Chong Liang gave chase early but the margin was always too great.
Currently ranked 57th in the world, Katayama has played only sparingly outside of Japan in recent years, missing the cut at the US Masters and the Northern Trust Open this year and losing in the first round of the Accenture Match Play Championship.
He did finish 4th in the Ballantines Championship in Korea earlier this season but generally his golf is confined to the Japan Golf Tour where he continues to amass a huge fortune. Now with career earnings of more than A$13,500,000, he sits behind only Jumbo Ozaki, Tommy Nakajima and Joe Ozaki on the all time Japan Golf Tour money list.
Katayama has shown on occasions a capacity to compete with the very best, more especially when finishing 4th behind David Toms at the 2001 USPGA Championship. He also made the cut in the three majors in which he competed in 2007 but, like so many of the leading Japanese players, Katayama might just enjoy being a big fish in a small pond than the reverse and why wouldn’t he, given the riches available. He has been only once outside the top five on the Japan Golf Tour money list since 2000 and has led that same money list on four of those occasions.
Liang continued his rapid rise in world golf adding this to a series of good finishes in events worldwide. In addition this great finish, he was 10th at the Crowns Tournament, 14th at the BMW Asian Open, 8th at the Volvo China Open, and 12th at the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic. He has not won a significant event for more than a year but it seems now just a matter of time. He could well become, if he is not already, the best player China has produced in its short history on the professional golfing stage.
Scott Laycock was the next best Australian after Jones when he fired a last round 66 to finish 11th, Paul Sheehan was 18th, Chris Campbell 27th, Wayne Perske 42nd, David Smail 47th and Steve Conran 58th.
The Japan Golf Tour will now play the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup where Ryo Ishikawa will defend his amazing win as a 15-year-old last year.