The putting form that put Jeev Milkha Singh in line for his third Nippon Series JT Cup in four years deserted him on Sunday as he ended with a round of even par 72 and finished sixth, as Shigeki Maruyama got his first win since returning full time to the Japanese tour.
Jeev’s putts just did not fall as he started with five pars before finding his first birdie on the sixth. He turned in one-under and then dropped two straight bogeys on 10th and 11th and there ended his chances. Just one more birdie on the 16th saw him finish at 72 and at five-under 275 he was fifth.
Jeev had won the title in 2006 and 2008 and finished third in 2007.
Maruyama shot a stunning flawless six-under 64 that saw him leap from fourth at three-u
nder to the top at nine-under, where he tied with overnight leader Kyung-Tae Kim (68).
The fight between Maruyama and Kim hotted up at the end. Maruyama looked in great form on the back nine as he birdied three in a row from 15th to 17th. Kim birdied the 16th and 7th and the two went into a play-off.
Maruyama, a three-time winner on the USPGA Tour, defeated South Korean Kim Kyung Tae with a par on the fourth playoff hole. The 40-year-old captured his 10th career JGTO title when he sank a short par putt in a repeat of the course’s signature par-3 18th hole after Kim two-putted for a bogey and was pushed to second, while Kazuhiro Yamashita with the day’s best 63 jumped up to third at seven-under. Tomohiro Kondo and Brendan Jones tied for fourth and Jeev was sixth.
The 18-year-old Ryo Ishikawa took centre stage as he became the youngest money title winner in Japanese golf history. Ishikawa finished the 2009 campaign top of the money list with 183 million yen after second-ranked Yuta Ikeda’s hopes of capturing the season-ending event ended at Tokyo Yomiuri Country Club. Ikeda had to win this event to top Ishikawa.
Ishikawa replaces Masashi “Jumbo” Ozaki as the youngest money winner on the JGTO tour. Ozaki won the money title at age of 26 in 1973.
Ishikawa finished tied for 19th in the 27-man field at 3-over 283 after a final-round 66, his best round of the week. Ikeda closed with a 72 to share 23rd at 7 over.