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Hometown hero Ikeda wins Bridgestone Open

Kyodo

In-form Yuta Ikeda overturned a two-shot overnight deficit to win the Bridgestone Open on Sunday, knocking teen phenom Ryo Ishikawa off the top of the money rankings in the process.

The 23-year-old produced a sparkling 7-under 65 in the final round at Sodegaura Country Club to capture his second title in three weeks and fourth of the season.

Ikeda, who closed on 18-under 270 and finished two strokes clear of Kenichi Kuboya, collected the top prize of ¥30 million and now leads Ishikawa in the race for the money title by just over ¥9.6 million.

“I watched this tournament live when I was a schoolboy so have always had a special attachment to it. Naturally I am always aiming to win every tournament I play in but I especially wanted to win this one,” said Ikeda.

“I wasn’t thinking too much about the money rankings but of course it is a nice feeling to be on top. Now I have to work hard to make sure I stay there for the rest of the year.”

Ikeda qualified for the Bridgestone Invitational, one of the annual World Golf Championships, in Ohio next August.

“It will be a good learning experience for me. I’ll give it my best shot,” he said.

Ikeda claimed the first win of his professional career at the Japan PGA Championship in June and followed up with victories at the Vana H Cup KBC Augusta in August and the Canon Open a fortnight ago.

The Chiba native began the day two strokes behind Kaname Yokoo but hit his stride with four birdies through a six-hole stretch on the front nine.

Three consecutive birdies followed from No. 12 before he went on to make a birdie-bogey-par finish.

Kuboya shot a 67 and Shingo Katayama had a 69 to finish another stroke back in third place.

Yokoo, who was bidding to end a three-year title drought, struggled to a 74 and shared seventh on 277 with last week’s Japan Open winner Ryuichi Oda (72), Katsunori Kuwabara (69) and Masanori Kobayashi (72).

Ishikawa carded a 67 and closed in a tie for 20th at 7-under.

Surprise for Shin

MIKI , Hyogo Pref. (Kyodo) U.S. LPGA money leader Shin Ji Yai won a three-way playoff against Akiko Fukushima and Yuko Mitsuka at the Masters GC Ladies on Sunday.

The 21-year-old South Korean picked up her third career Japan LPGA title with a two-putt par on the first playoff hole, the par-4 18th, at Masters Golf Club.

“It was a surprise victory. So surprising that I can’t think of anything,” said Shin, who leads second-place Ai Miyazato by $150,000 on the LPGA money list with four events left in the season.