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Matsuyama captures Japan Open title for first time

Kyodo

U.S. PGA Tour regular Hideki Matsuyama won the Japan Open Golf Championship, holding on to his overnight lead after carding a 1-under-par 69 in the final round Sunday.

He rolled in five birdies and four bogeys for a total of 5-under 275 over four days on the 7,208-yard course at Sayama Golf Club, finishing three shots ahead of runners-up Yuta Ikeda and South Korean Lee Kyoung-hoon.

Matsuyama sat five shots off the pace in a tie for 15th place after the first round, improved to a share of eighth at the midway point, three shots behind the then leaders, and topped the leaderboard with a one-shot advantage over 2014 champion Ikeda and Lee after firing a 65 Saturday.

“I think my experiences on the U.S. tour helped me. I’m glad I played well,” said the 24-year-old Matsuyama, who competed in the Japan Open for the first time in four years.

“They say this is a major domestic event, but this is not what I’m after. I see this as a passing point. My goal is to win at the four major championships (in men’s golf),” he said, referring to the Masters, the U.S. Open, the Open Championship and the PGA Championship.

With his seventh win and first major title on the Japan Golf Tour Organization tour, Matsuyama claimed ¥40 million in prize money and won a five-year seed on the JGTO tour.

Ryo Ishikawa, who returned to competition in August after dealing with lower back issues for about half a year, ended in a tie for seventh with a 3-over 283.