Japan’s Yosuke Asaji capped an unforgettable week when he held his nerve to win the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup by one shot on Mother’s Day at the Sobu Country Club.
With his mother and wife following him throughout the final round, Asaji, who earned his spot by topping the Monday Qualifiers, kept his composure as he held on to his overnight lead to eventually close with a one-over-par 72.
Asaji’s winning total of three-under-par 281 also earned him a spot at The 148th Open, which will be held at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland in July.
The Japanese was chasing his first professional victory and admitted he also had a stroke of luck with his closest rivals failing to dislodge him from the leaderboard’s summit.
“I’m really happy as this is my first professional victory and it was such a tough battle out there today,” Asaji said.
“I was up against so many quality players and I had to play my best golf. I was also lucky some of them did not manage to catch me. But I got a lot of support from everyone this week, especially my wife and my mother, who are here with me this week.”
Micah Lauren Shin of the United States tried to mount a late charge but dropped three shots in his inward nine and had to settle for a share of second place with Japanese amateur Ren Yonezawa.
New Zealand’s Danzel Ieremia and Korea’s Y.E. Yang were tied for fourth, while Zimbabwean Scott Vincent secured another top-10 by sharing sixth place with Korea’s Dongkyu Jang.
The Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup was the Asian Tour’s first stop in Japan this season and second of four co-sanctioned events with the Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO) this year.
Kiwi rookie Denzel Ieremia was one of only five players to finish the tournament under par, as Sobu Country Club in Chiba proved to be a very stern test, continuing his impressive start to his professional career.
After completing a stellar college career at Iowa State University in December, the 23-year-old made his pro debut at the Coca-Cola Queensland PGA Championship, where he was tied for 14th, and followed that up with a tie for seventh at the SEC NZ PGA Championship.
His quick transition into the pro ranks continued in Japan, where he was tied for fourth, bouncing back after an opening round of 76 with rounds of 68-66-73 to end the week at one under to earn a cheque for just under AU$115,000.
Second cousin to former All Blacks rugby player Alama Ieremia and Silver Fern April Ieremia, Denzel’s development has been closely monitored in New Zealand, his third round of six-under 66 the low round for the week and an indicator of his immense talent.
Matthew Griffin continued his excellent start to the Japan Golf Tour season to be the best of the Australians in a tie for 16th, with Won Joon Lee two shots further back in a tie for 22nd and amateur David Micheluzzi impressing again in a tie for 27th, level with Queenslander Brad Kennedy.
– Asian Tour, PGA