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Hiratsuka holds three-stroke lead in Japan Open

Kyodo

Tetsuji Hiratsuka shot a 70 Friday to establish a three-shot advantage at the midway point of the Japan Open, the third major of the season on the JGTO Tour.

Hiratsuka, one of only three players to go under par in the second round on another blustery day at the par-71 Naha Golf Club, made six birdies against five bogeys to close at 1-over 143.

The 40-year-old Hiratsuka, who claimed his most recent victory at the 2011 Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open, moved three clear of Komei Oda.

“I didn’t play particularly well, but the shots that made the fairway led to the chances that just happened to go in the cup for me,” said Hiratsuka, a six-time winner on the tour.

“It was still really windy around the halfway point. I thought it had died down after around three holes after the turn but the wind and the rain came. I am not used to the wind and I just took a very conservative approach and tried to avoid double bogeys.”

Oda picked up one shot through 10 holes but unraveled with three bogeys coming home and had a 2-over 73.

Local favorite Yusaku Miyazato matched the day’s low score of 69 and was tied with 57-year-old Tsuneyuki Nakajima (74), current money rankings leader Hiroyuki Fujita (73), Kenichi Kuboya (73) and overnight coleader Nobuhito Sato (75).

China’s Wu Ashun and Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines were tied for eighth at 6 over.

Last week’s Canon Open winner Yuta Ikeda shared 16th place at 8 over after a 72. Promising amateur Hideki Matsuyama and Ryo Ishikawa were at 11 and 12 over, respectively, but Shingo Katayama and old-timers Isao Aoki and Jumbo Ozaki missed the cut.