MIYAZAKI – Money leader Shingo Katayama got off to a strong start to his Dunlop Phoenix Tournament campaign on Thursday, shooting a 5-under-par 65 in the first round to take a one-stroke lead.
Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano opened with a 66 while Tiger Woods finished the day two strokes off the pace in a tie for third with European Order of Merit title winner Padraig Harrington, Toshimitsu Izawa, Hisayuki Sasaki and Satoru Hirota.
Katayama teed off on the 10th hole of the Phoenix Country Club and made seven birdies in a 10-hole stretch around the turn, including three straight from the 18th, while carding two bogeys as he held on to emerge as the first-round leader.
Katayama said he was able to play his own game all day, shrugging off Woods’ presence in the field.
“I think it was a good start,” he said. “It feels the same. I don’t think differently and I concentrated on my own golf.”
Katayama is aiming for his fourth title of the year and a victory this week will pull him closer to a third consecutive money title with the top prize of 40 million yen from the 200 million yen purse, one of the richest on the Japanese tour.
Woods, whose streak of six consecutive stroke-play victories ended at the HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai, had five birdies and a pair of bogeys in opening the defense of his Dunlop Phoenix title after winning here the previous two years.
Tsuneyuki “Tommy” Nakajima, the 52-year-old who won last week’s Mitsui Sumitomo VISA Taiheiyo Masters, had a 70 and is in a group of players that also include Ian Poulter of England, and Australians Scott Laycock and Chris Campbell.