Ibaraki, Japan: Japan’s Kaito Onishi stayed on top of the leaderboard in the Asia Pacific Open Golf Championship Diamond Cup on Saturday after the third round although he was joined there by countrymen Yuto Katsuragawa and Ryuko Tokimatsu and New Zealander Ben Campbell.
Onishi, the leader after the first two rounds, carded a one-over-par 71 to finish the day on seven under at Oarai Golf Club, while Tokimatsu, who had a hole in one, and Campbell both returned 66s; Katsuragawa came in with a 67.
Japan’s Shugo Imahira (69) and Yuki Inamori (70) are one stroke further back, in the Asian Tour Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO) jointly-sanctioned event.
Onishi has only been a professional for a year and yet he is on the threshold of his first JGTO victory. And despite a difficult day on the course, which saw him make two birdies and three bogeys, he remained in a confident mood.
“I’m not bad at golf so I think I have a good chance tomorrow,” joked the 23 year old, who graduated from the University of Southern California last year.
“My golf is in good shape, so I think I can win if the shots and putts mesh well. I think I have a chance if I can play my best golf.”
Campbell’s joint lowest round of the day, made up of six birdies and two bogeys, has put him is position to claim a second pro win, to go alongside his 2018 New Zealand PGA Championship success.
“I played solid,” said Campbell.
“My front nine was really good. I just putted solid the whole day. It’s a great golf course. It’s tough. You just have to stay patient out there. I actually had five weeks off before this week. I was feeling a bit rusty. Today, I hit some good shots and some bad ones as well. I’m going to the range now to hit some balls. I know what I need to do. I just need to keep doing it all the time. If I can play like how I did today tomorrow, I think I can give myself a good chance.”
One player who everyone will keep a watchful eye on tomorrow is Katsuragawa, who currently leads the JGTO Money List with first and second place finishes to his name this season.
“I’m glad I was able to improve my score by three today,” said Katsuragawa, who first hit the headlines at the SMBC Singapore Open in January when he tied for second to secure a berth in this year’s Open.
“This is my first time playing this course. I like this tough course better. I'm good at shot making, so I can attack. I think I gained a little confidence when I won for the first time this year. Once I won, I didn't have any negative thoughts from there. Now I can play with the image of winning. I want to do the same tomorrow as today.”
Tokimatsu is the most experienced of the front runners, winning three times on the JGTO from 2016 to 2018, and his attempt to add a fourth was helped considerably by an ace on the par-three fourth, where he hit an eight irons from 160 yards.
“It’s my first [hole in one] in a pro tournament,” said Tokimatsu.
“I have had a lot in private rounds, but it's exceptional in professional tournament.”
He then raced into the lead after making birdie on six, seven, nine and 11 but as he was about to finish the day with the outright lead he made a double on 17.
“This Oarai course is like that, so it can't be helped,” he added.
Japan’s Mikumu Horikawa also made a hole in one on the eighth, with a seven iron from 218 yards. He fired a 67 and is six off the lead.
Scores after round 3 of the Asia-Pacific Open Golf Championship Diamond Cup being played at the par 70, 7163 Yards Oarai GC course (am - denotes amateur):
203 - Ben Campbell (NZL) 67-70-66, Ryuko Tokimatsu (JPN) 71-66-66, Yuto Katsuragawa (JPN) 67-69-67, Kaito Onishi (JPN) 65-67-71.
204 - Shugo Imahira (JPN) 66-69-69, Yuki Inamori (JPN) 70-64-70.
205 - Hiroshi Iwata (JPN) 65-74-66, Kazuma Kobori (am, NZL) 67-70-68.
206 - Rikuya Hoshino (JPN) 67-67-72.
207 - Jinichiro Kozuma (JPN) 71-67-69.
208 - Ajeetesh Sandhu (IND) 70-69-69, Keita Nakajima (am, JPN) 67-71-70, Sadom Kaewkanjana (THA) 69-68-71.
209 - Yuta Ikeda (JPN) 67-72-70, Shingo Katayama (JPN) 70-72-67, Mikumu Horikawa (JPN) 71-71-67, Berry Henson (USA) 66-71-72, Tomoyo Ikemura (JPN) 71-72-66.
210 - Kosuke Suzuki (am, JPN) 70-70-70, Itthipat Buranatanyarat (THA) 71-70-69, Kodai Ichihara (JPN) 67-73-70, Shunsuke Sonoda (JPN) 68-71-71, Ryo Hisatsune (JPN) 69-70-71, Daijiro Izumida (JPN) 70-71-69, Gunn Charoenkul (THA) 72-66-72, Ryo Noro (JPN) 71-67-72, Yusaku Hosono (JPN) 73-69-68, Ryo Ishikawa (JPN) 70-67-73.
211 - Taiga Semikawa (am, JPN) 71-69-71, Ryuichi Oiwa (JPN) 72-69-70, Aguri Iwasaki (JPN) 72-69-70, Yosuke Tsukada (JPN) 70-69-72, Kosuke Hamamoto (THA) 69-68-74, Yusuke Sakamoto (JPN) 71-71-69, Prom Meesawat (THA) 68-69-74, Todd Sinnott (AUS) 66-68-77.
212 - Yoshitaka Takeya (JPN) 69-71-72, Ben Leong (MAS) 72-69-71, Kazuki Higa (JPN) 71-70-71, Steve Lewton (ENG) 70-69-73, Shota Ueki (JPN) 69-72-71, Naoyuki Kataoka (JPN) 69-73-70, Azuma Yano (JPN) 71-71-70, Masato Sumiuchi (am, JPN) 76-67-69, Brad Kennedy (AUS) 69-74-69.
213 - Hiroki Abe (JPN) 68-72-73, Tomohiro Ishizaka (JPN) 67-74-72, Yosuke Asaji (JPN) 69-72-72, Toru Taniguchi (JPN) 67-74-72, Tomoharu Otsuki (JPN) 72-70-71, Miguel Carballo (ARG) 69-73-71, Jbe Kruger (RSA) 73-70-70, Daisuke Kataoka (JPN) 71-72-70.
214 - Taihei Sato (JPN) 71-68-75, Katsumasa Miyamoto (JPN) 71-71-72, Taichiro Ideriha (am, JPN) 70-73-71.
215 - Jimmy Hydes (am, NZL) 67-73-75, Michio Matsumura (JPN) 67-72-76, Ren Yonezawa (JPN) 72-71-72.
216 - Hiroyuki Fujita (JPN) 69-69-78, Eric Sugimoto (JPN) 72-71-73.
219 - Hideto Kobukuro (JPN) 68-74-77, Yuwa Kosaihira (JPN) 71-72-76.