Tomoyasu Sugiyama’s breakthrough comes with a big cherry

Tomoyasu Sugiyama's maiden win on the Japan Golf Tour also got him a ticket to the ZOZO Championship. Photo: JGTO
Tomoyasu Sugiyama's maiden win on the Japan Golf Tour also got him a ticket to the ZOZO Championship. Photo: JGTO

Tomoyasu Sugiyama, into his sixth year as a professional, came through to accomplish his first victory on the Japan Golf Tour (JGTO) and received an invitation to the PGA Tour and JGTO co-sanctioned ZOZO Championship, which will start from October 21 at the Narashino Chiba Prefecture.

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Jinichiro Kozuma and Naoyuki Kataoka finished T2 and also received tickets to the ZOZO Championship.

The seven top players on the ZOZO Rankings, a Money Ranking counting from this year’s season opening tournament Token Homemate Cup to this week’s Bridgestone Open, will also get invites.

Sugiyama was congratulated by his buddies with a water shower. Overwhelmed, he said, “I could have never done this by myself. So many supported me, and I am deeply grateful.”

Sugiyama also thanked Kataoka, who ran him close in the final round. “His great shots and putts made my game better too.”

Sugiyama was a great sport as he called out a birdie by Kataoka on the 6th, although he had made bogey on that hole. “I want younger players to feel comfortable. I want the whole group to have a good atmosphere,” said the champion.

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Sugiyama led for the first time in the final round in his first appearance at the tournament. “I was under pressure. But I told myself I should concentrate on my shots. Whether the putts go in or not is up to the golf gods. I planned my strategy by calculating shots backwards from the pin position, and it worked.”

He faltered on the 14th but stayed calm. “I told myself if I could get a birdie on the 15th, I could be aggressive on the 16th since my draw ball suites that hole. As I approached the finishing holes, I was able to see which line is easier and would give me a higher success rate in the putts. I was good with the hook lines.”

On the 15th, his 2nd shot from 126 yards got to 2.5-metres to the pin and gave him a hook line. He went on make another birdie on the 16th and he sealed victory by three shots.

Sugiyama started golf at 5 on his grandmother’s advice. He was raised by a single mother, whom he thanked for her support. “She offered me everything so that I could concentrate on golf. I really want to thank her.” He said he would give the prize money to his mother.

Sugiyama is excited to feature in the ZOZO Championship along with Hideki Matsuyama. “Hideki was two grades senior in high school. If I get the chance to meet him at the ZOZO Championship, I want to congratulate him on the victory at The Masters. It will be an honour to be in the same field with a hero like him.”


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