Kim grabs two-stroke advantage

Kyodo News

South Korea’s Kim Kyung Tae shot a sizzling 6-under 64 Saturday to take a two-stroke lead into the final round of the season-ending Nippon Series JT Cup.

Kim, seeking his first win in Japan, made seven birdies against one bogey for a 7-under 203 total on the par-70 layout at Tokyo Yomiuri Country Club.

The 23-year-old notched four birdies in a six-hole stretch beginning at the 12th hole.

“My tee shot was going left a little bit in the first two rounds, but today I was able to hit it straight. I also putted well,” Kim said. “I’ve flirted with victory many times since last year, so I’m used to play in a pressure situation.”

Kim has finished second or tied for second four times in two full seasons on the Japanese tour.

Defending champion Jeev Milkha Singh of India and Toshinori Muto tied for second after rounds of 65 and 66, respectively.

Overnight leader Shigeki Maruyama shot a 70 to drop into fourth at 3 under.

Ryo Ishikawa had a 67 and is all but certain to become the first teenage money list winner on the JGTO tour as second-ranked Yuta Ikeda, who has to win this event to overtake the 18-year-old, fell 12 shots off the lead.

Ikeda (68) moved up to 20th at 5 over, while Ishikawa (67) shared 22nd in the 27-man field at 7 over.

S. Korea wins

NANJO , Okinawa Pref. (Kyodo) South Korea took advantage of its massive opening-day lead to win the Kyoraku Cup team event by a score of 29-19 against Japan on Saturday.

Japan won the second day of stroke-play matches 15-9 but it was not enough to overturn Friday’s 20-4 deficit at the par-73 Ryukyu Golf club in Okinawa.

South Korea earned its first win since 2006 and improved its overall record to 5-3 and a tie.

“All our team members got along well. The veterans gave us great advice,” said Seo Hee Kyung, this year’s top earner on the South Korean tour. Seo edged Chie Arimura 71-72.

Local favorite Ai Miyazato had a chip-in eagle on the par-5 18th hole in a bogey-free 64 and beat Lim Eun A (71), while newly crowned Japan LPGA money leader Sakura Yokomine downed Jeon Mi Jeong 71-74.

“I haven’t been this upset in a while,” Miyazato said of the team’s loss.

Japan-based Song Bo Bae was named the best performer of the event after defeating Miho Koga 68-70 for her second win in as many days.