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Fujita picks up third win

Kyodo

Hiroyuki Fujita shot a final-round 4-under-par 68 on Sunday to win for the third time this season on the JGTO tour, finishing at 16-under 272 to capture the ANA Open by one stroke.

The international quartet of Yuta Ikeda, Australian Kurt Barnes, overnight leader Kim Hyung Sung of South Korea and China’s Liang Wenchong tied for second. The scene was all set for the second playoff in seven days, but Barnes, Kim and Ikeda all bogeyed the final hole.

A week after his compatriot Wu Ashun become China’s first winner on the JGTO tour, Liang, who shot the day’s low round of 64, birdied Nos. 16 and 17 to pull even, but couldn’t make it three straight to force a playoff.

Fujita was preparing himself for that possibility.

“I was thinking, ‘If only I can survive a playoff,’ ” Fujita said. “It feels as if the victory just rolled into my lap.”

Ikeda, who lost the previous week’s playoff in the dark to Wu, earned the distinction of being a runnerup for the third straight tournament, something that had not occurred since 1997.

“Even if you’re competing for the championship, if you don’t win it, it doesn’t mean anything,” said a frustrated Ikeda. “Second place? It’s the same as last.”

Ikeda and the other second-place finishers each collected just over ¥7 million in prize money, while Fujita’s ¥22 million payday saw him replace Australia’s Brendan Jones at the top of the tour money table.

“To finish in the top 50 in the world rankings this year is a target of mine,” Fujita said, referring to the ranking needed to book a spot at next year’s Masters. “Because of that, this win is huge.”