• Kyodo News


Ryo Ishikawa and Yuta Ikeda failed to overtake Kim Kyung Tae for the JGTO money title after Hiroyuki Fujita won the season-ending Nippon Series JT Cup on Sunday.

Second and third in the rankings behind Kim at the start of the tournament, Ishikawa and Ikeda had to win to stand any chance of unseating the South Korean for the title.

The winning prize of ¥40 million moved Fujita from fourth to second in the yearend money rankings. Ishikawa finished third on the list and Ikeda was fourth.

Ikeda, who shot a 67, tied Kim (65) for fifth place, while Ishikawa ended up with a share of seventh on the 7,016 yard, par-70 layout at Tokyo Yomiuri Country Club.

The 24-year-old Kim became the first South Korean money title winner on the JGTO Tour. He is also the second non-Japanese-born player to win the title following David Ishii, an American golfer of Japanese descent, in 1987.

“I played well today. This is one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my life,” Kim said after being informed of his money title win before Ikeda completed his round in the final threesome.

“I felt pressure from the start of today’s round, so it was nice to make early birdies — on the first and third holes.”

The popularity of Ishikawa drew a record crowd of 17,070 to the final round in the 47-year-old tournament.

Ishikawa didn’t disappoint any of them.

The 19-year-old phenom electrified the gallery by birdying five of the first six holes to halve his overnight deficit to four strokes.

He stumbled to a double bogey on the par-4 13th but recovered to close his round with three consecutive birdies in a 64 that left him six strokes behind the winner.

“I went on an early birdie run in the morning, so I was upbeat going into the back nine,” said Ishikawa. “When I approached the 18th green, the huge gallery made me realize once again that just so many people are behind me.

“After the first round, I set a goal of going 15 under over the next three rounds. I achieved my goal when I made my last birdie at No. 18. I entered the year as the defending money champion. I think I had a great season.”

Ishikawa reflects

Kyodo News

Ryo Ishikawa finished third in the 2010 JGTO rankings after his comeback attempt to defend the money title fell short in the season-ending Nippon Series JT Cup on Sunday.

A long season has just ended, but the 19-year-old star is already talking about what he needs to work on for next year.

“I played really well from the start today, so it was good to play in a competitive mode, not being way out of contention,” Ishikawa said after a final-round, 6-under 64 left him tied for seventh place.

“I went on to the back nine in high spirits, but I double-bogeyed the 13th hole. That’s an issue for my 2011 — I do well on certain holes and struggle on others. I have to overcome the holes I’m not good at.”

Meanwhile, Ikeda did not hide his frustration at missing out on the money title after a fifth-place finish in the season-ending event.

“I had the worst round I could think of,” Ikeda said. “I didn’t make a single birdie on the back nine at a time when I was in a desperate need for birdies.”

At one point during the round, Ikeda was in a four-way tie for the lead with eventual winner Hiroyuki Fujita, Brendan Jones and Tetsuji Hiratsuka.

Ikeda and Ishikawa had to win the tournament to stand any chance of unseating Kim for the money title.

“I feel no sense of satisfaction because I ended the season this way,” said the 24-year-old.

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