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Fifteen-year-old Katsu claims historic victory

Kyodo

Teenage amateur Minami Katsu, at 15 years and 293 days, became the youngest-ever winner on the Japan LPGA Tour when she captured the Vantelin Ladies Open on Sunday.

Katsu, who started the day one shot back in a four-way tie for second, made five birdies and one bogey in a round of 4-under-par 68. The first-year student from Kagoshima High School finished with a winning total of 11-under 205.

“I can’t believe it,” said Katsu. “This is my first pro event of the year and my first goal was to make the cut. I was pleased to make the cut but never thought I would win the title. It still hasn’t sunk in yet.”

South Korean Lee Bo-mee shot a 69 and finished one shot back in second place, while compatriot Lee Ji-hee also carded a 69 and placed third at 7 under. Since the tournament was won by an amateur, the ¥18 million first prize went to Lee Bo-mee.

Kim Hyo-joo, at 16 years and 332 days, was the previous youngest winner, when the South Korean captured the Suntory Ladies Open in 2012.

Katsu eclipsed the Japanese record set by then third-year high school student Ai Miyazato, who was 18 when she won the Miyagi TV Cup Dunlop Ladies Open in 2003.

Ryo Ishikawa holds the record for the youngest winner on the Japanese men’s tour, taking the 2007 Munsingwear KSB Cup at 15 years, 245 days.