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Miyazato claims first career title at Nippon Series

Kyodo

Yusaku Miyazato held his nerve to capture his first career title at the season-ending Nippon Series JT Cup on Sunday, sealing a three-stroke victory with a par-saving chip on No. 18.

The 33-year-old Miyazato, whose younger sister Ai is the star of three pro golf siblings, teed off with a three-stroke lead at the par-70 Yomiuri Country Club but had four birdies canceled out by five bogeys in a final round 1-over-par 71.

“I couldn’t muster any strength and I couldn’t walk,” said Miyazato after holing out on the 18th. “I’ve been known a lot to disappoint by falling apart on the final day, but this time I feel, in a good way, I probably let down my family who came out to watch me play,” he joked.

Miyazato finished on 13-under 267, three strokes ahead of China’s Wu Ashun, who carded a 68. Hideto Tanihara came third, a shot further back, after a 72.

Miyazato claimed ¥40 million in prize money and, with his first title, joined older brother Kiyoshi as a titlist on the JGTO tour. Ai has nine tour victories on the U.S. LPGA Tour and 14 in Japan.

With ¥78.69 million, Miyazato moved into seventh for a career high in the final money rankings.

“One victory isn’t nearly enough. I want to build on this with my second and third victories and really become a strong player,” Miyazato said.

Hiroyuki Fujita, who was aiming for his fourth consecutive Nippon Series title, shot a 69 and finished alone in eighth. Newly crowned money rankings champion Hideki Matsuyama sat out the ¥130 million tournament due to inflammation in his left thumb.

Matsuyama became the first rookie to win the money title after capturing the Casio World Open for his fourth victory last Sunday.