MANILA, Philippines - Frankie Miñoza made clutch par putts in the closing holes to fire a one-under 71 and nip Kiyoshi Murota, Tsuneyuki Nakajima and Koki Idoki by one for the 22nd Japan Senior Open Golf Championship at the Higashinagoya Country Club’s West Course in Aichi, Japan yesterday.
One shot behind Idoki at the start of the final round, Miñoza tied the Japanese at the turn with a 35 then pounced on Idoki’s bogey-bogey mishap from No. 12 to wrest control before coming through with gutsy pars to hold off his three Japanese rivals and snatch the crown in one of the premier championships of the Japan Golf Association.
He totaled 284, including a lead-grabbing 69 in the first round, and took the top Y16 million purse worth P8.2 million.
It was Miñoza’s first victory since snapping a long victory drought in the ICTSI Wack Wack Championship last December where be battled back from seven strokes down to humble the leading pros on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
The victory also came on the heels of Miñoza’s poor campaign on the Asian Tour, where he missed the cut in all but one of his four tournaments while finishing way behind in 62nd in the ICTSI Philippine Open, also at Wack Wack.
Murota bogeyed the 18th for a 72 and missed forcing a playoff with a 285, the same output put in by Nakajima, who also bogeyed the 17th for a 72, and Idoki, who wound up with a 73 despite a birdie on the 16th.
Miñoza actually dropped to third with a 72 in the second round and remained one shot off the pace with another even par card Saturday.
But he flashed vintage form in the final round, birdying the par-5 No. 1 for the third straight day the par-3 No. 3. He dropped a shot on the sixth but forced a tie at the helm when Idoki, who threatened to pull away with back-to-back birdie opener, bogeyed Nos. 6 and 8.
Miñoza grabbed the lead with a birdie on the 11th but bogeyed No. 12 before grabbing the lead for good as Idoki fumbled with back-to-back bogeys from No. 12.
Murota matched Miñoza’s 35 and remained tied with the Filipino ace until he hobbled with a bogey on the closing hole while Nakajima rallied with two birdies in the first five holes at the back but reeled back with a bogey on the 17th.