MIYAZAKI – Japan’s Kodai Ichihara came from behind with an 8-under 63 to win the Dunlop Phoenix on Sunday, ending world No. 1 Brooks Koepka’s two-year reign as tournament champion.
The 36-year-old Ichihara started the day in eighth place, five strokes back of countryman Mikumu Horikawa, but carded an eagle and seven birdies against a lone bogey at Phoenix Country Club’s par-71 course.
“I played my best golf. I was waiting for the (final group to) finish, so I wasn’t really sure until it was over,” said Ichihara, who won his maiden title at June’s Mori Building Cup, also on Japan’s JGTO tour.
“I couldn’t believe it at first, but I’m glad it didn’t take me too long to claim my second title.”
Horikawa finished one-stroke behind as runner-up, while Australia’s Brendan Jones finished another shot back.
Koepka, a three-time major champion, was within three strokes of the lead after finishing the second round with three straight birdies. But he could not keep pace over the final two rounds and settled for 12th place with a 9-under total.
Japan’s world No. 23 Hideki Matsuyama finished further back in 44th.