Takahiro Hataji creates a piece of history for Japan in New Zealand

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Takahiro Hataji - TheGolfingHub
Takahiro Hataji also became the first Japanese player to win on the PGA Tour of Australasia since Isao Oaki's victory at the 1989 Coca-Cola Classic at Royal Melbourne Golf Club. Photo: www.photosport.nz

Takahiro Hataji etched his name into the history books of the New Zealand Open presented by Sky Sport, becoming the first Japanese player to win the tournament in its 103rd edition.

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The 30-year-old, who began the day one shot off the lead, fired a final round four-under-par 67 for a four-day total of 17-under 267 at the Millbrook Golf Resort.

 

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Hataji edged out Australia’s Scott Hend for the title by a single shot, as the latter three-putted the final hole, dashing his hopes of becoming the oldest man in the modern era to lift the Brodie Breeze Trophy at 50.

The victory was particularly gratifying for Hataji, marking his first-ever title in his 10th year as a professional golfer.

Remarkably, Hataji had not previously secured a victory even domestically, whether on the JGTO or ABEMA Tour.

 

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His closest brush with success on the main Tour came last year when he finished as runner-up at the Kansai Open. Additionally, he has twice finished as runner-up on the ABEMA Tour.

“It was a really tough day but I have the trophy so I am feeling very happy now,” Hataji was quoted as saying on the tournament’s official website.

“I’m happy but he (Hend) played very well so when his putt missed I felt a bit sorry for him too.”

In surpassing his compatriots Hideto Tanihara (2016) and Tomoyo Ikemura (2023) in their previous-best runner-up finishes, Hataji also holds the distinction of being the first Asian winner of the tournament.

Another remarkable record, according to the NZ Open’s website, is that Hataji also became the first Japanese player to win on the PGA Tour of Australasia since Isao Oaki’s victory at the 1989 Coca-Cola Classic at Royal Melbourne Golf Club.

Hataji’s triumph capped off a superb stretch of recent weeks during which Japanese players conquered the main tours across the planet.

Earlier, Rikuya Hoshino claimed victory at the DP World Tour‘s Qatar Masters, while Hideki Matsuyama emerged triumphant at the Genesis Invitational on the PGA Tour.