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Day, Matsuyama confirm participation for inaugural Zozo Championship

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12-time PGA Tour winner Jason Day will be competing in the first-ever Zozo Championship in Japan this October. Photos: PGA Tour/Getty Images

Chiba, Japan: Former World No. 1 Jason Day of Australia and local hero Hideki Matsuyama are the latest PGA Tour stars to commit to the inaugural Zozo Championship at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club from October 24 to 27, 2019. Golf News  games sports news national news

The duo, who hold a combined 17 PGA Tour wins, will join golf legend and 15-time Major winner Tiger Woods and 2016 FedExCup winner Rory McIroy in Japan. Golf News  games sports news national news

“The field for the inaugural Zozo Championship keeps getting stronger with Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama now officially committing to our tournament. Their star presence, coupled with the commitments made earlier by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, will help ensure a successful launch for Japan’s first-ever PGA Tour tournament. It’ll be a memorable experience for sports fans in Japan and around Asia,” said Travis Steiner, Executive Director, Zozo Championship.

Day, 31, is one of Australia’s finest golf ambassadors, thanks largely to his 12 PGA Tour victories which include one Major title at the 2015 PGA Championship. The talented Aussie enjoyed a banner season in 2015 following five victories including two FedExCup Playoffs events and rose to World No. 1 that season.

The Australian also claimed a popular home win at the World Cup of Golf in 2013, teaming up with Adam Scott for the triumph and also picking up the individual honours. This season, Day, who is currently ranked 21st in the world, has enjoyed six top-10 finishes to date.

Day said: “As professional golfers, it is a privilege to visit and compete in Asian countries. The PGA Tour is already in Korea and China and we’ve now got a new tournament in Japan which is exciting for the growth of the sport in Asia. A lot of people over there love golf and they don’t get to see the top players all the time and I’m sure Japanese fans will come out in numbers to support us. It’s also fun to experience new cultures and that’s part of the perks as to why we play golf. Ultimately, I’ll be heading to the Zozo Championship with every intention to win the tournament against what looks like a very strong field.” Golf News  games sports news national news

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Hideki Matsuyama of Japan

With five career PGA Tour victories to his name, including two World Golf Championships wins, the 27-year-old Matsuyama has already established himself as Japan’s most successful golfer. The two-time Asian Amateur Championship winner has also triumphed eight times on the Japan Golf Tour, including the Mitsui Sumitomo  Taiheiyo Masters in 2011 while he was still an amateur.

His participation in the Zozo Championship is bound to attract strong local support from Japanese fans which Matsuyama is looking forward to reciprocating with a strong showing on home soil.

Matsuyama said: “I’m looking forward to competing in the Zozo Championship. As it will be the first official PGA Tour event in Japan, I can see the tournament playing an important role towards the growth and development of golf in our country.

“I believe the presence of many world-class golfers from the PGA Tour will provide an inspiration to young Japanese fans to learn the game and then excel in this great sport. I’ll be aiming to play my best golf in front of my fans and hopefully contend for the first Zozo Championship title.”

The Zozo Championship will feature an elite 78-man field, including the leading 60 players from the FedExCup points list, 10 designated by the Japan Golf Tour Organization (JGTO) and eight special exemptions. The event is co-sanctioned with the JGTO. Golf News  games sports news national news

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Rookie Gauri Karhade wins maiden pro title in sixth attempt

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Gauri Karhade in action during final round

Hyderabad: Rookie Gauri Karhade playing only her sixth event as a pro on the Hero Women’s Pro Golf Tour, stunned the front runners, amateur Shreya Pal, and the seasoned Gaurika Bishnoi, to land her first title on the circuit. She stayed calm and held her nerve to shoot a final round of 73 for a total of two-under 214 and win the 12th Leg by one shot over Gaurika Bishnoi (75) and Afshan Fatima (70).

Afshan Fatima, who made a great charge on the front nine with a two-under 34, held the lead midway through the back nine but dropped crucial back-to-back bogeys on 15th and 16th to fall into a tie for second with Gaurika at one-under 215.

Playing the final group, overnight leader, Shreya Pal began with a flourish on the first with a birdie. But she dropped three bogeys in the next four holes. Gauri, starting the final day two behind leader Shreya and one behind Gaurika, was steady and she parred the first five holes, as Gaurika also dropped a shot on second.

Then it was Gauri’s turn to make a mistake with a double bogey on sixth, but Gaurika dropped a bogey on seventh and Shreya dropped a double bogey. That opened the door for Gauri. Meanwhile, Afshan was making a charge with three birdies against one bogey on the front nine.

After nine holes, it was still a very tight battle. Gaurika, who was four-under for two rounds, was still two-under after 45 holes. Four players, Shreya, Afshan, Gauri and Ananya Datar were at one-under after the front nine.

On the back nine, Gauri and Afshan found birdies on 11th and Gaurika bogeyed to let Gauri and Afshan move into the lead with the two-shot swing. Gauri dropped a shot on 12th to fall back and Afshan was sole leader.

Gauri and Afshan both birdied the 14th at which stage Afshan was ahead at three-under and Gauri was two-under. Gaurika stayed at one-under. Shreya, now five-over for the day after a bogey on 12th, fell back to even par.

Then it was Afshan’s turn to make mistakes and she made two in a row on 15th and 16th that allowed Gauri to sneak ahead. She only had to stay calm and get her pars. She did just that. None of the three, including Gaurika, made birdies on the last two holes, leaving Gauri as the victor.

Gaurika, unable to find birdies the whole day, ended Tied-second with Afshan, who after a great 14 holes made crucial errors to throw away a chance.

Gauri, who started playing at the age of 10 and learnt her early lessons in Thane and Kharghar, has honed her skills at the Poona Golf Club and now resides in Mumbai.

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Korn Ferry finals: Ace golfer Anirban Lahiri gets positive start

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Lahiri had a rough start as he started from 10th and bogeyed 11th and 14th to go two-over.

Columbus: Indian ace golfer Anirban Lahiri started his campaign on a positive note, he shot four-under 67 to be placed at tied-fifth in the first round of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship here. The tournament is the first one in the series of three-event Korn Ferry finals.

The 32-year-old PGA Tour golfer was down by two strokes when he began his round with bogeys at the 11th and 14th holes. But the resilient Indian fought back with six birdies, including back to back birdies to finish the round. He had five birdies in a brilliant second nine, after starting the day at the 10th tee.

“I got off to a bad start but played good as things went on. I dropped a shot on 11th and then hit a bad drive but I started getting more comfortable later on. The greens were slower than what I have played in recent months. But then I was getting more comfortable with the surfaces as things went on,” Lahiri said.

Conversely, another Indian contender Shubhankar Sharma conceded a double bogey on the first hole and battled his way to a 75 that left him outside the top 100.

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Vani snatches lead in Round 2 of 11th leg

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Hyderabad: Vani Kapoor moved into sole lead despite a late double bogey in the second round of the 11th leg of the Hero Women’s Pro Golf Tour at the Hyderabad Golf Club on Thursday. The 25-year-old NCR golfer, who is playing her first domestic event this season and has come back after two months while recovering from niggling injuries, had three birdies against two bogeys and a double bogey in her card of one-over 72.

Vani is now four-over 146, but three shots clear of her nearest rival Gaurika Bishnoi, who shot the day’s best and the week’s first par round of 71.

Gaurika, one of the only two players to have four birdies in the second round, birdied first, sixth, ninth and 17th, while dropping shots on second, seventh, 12th and 14th. Amateur Shreya Pal was the other player with four birdies, but she dropped numerous shots including a triple bogey on the par-4 18th for 76.

Ananya Datar overcame a rough front nine of five-over 40 with a one-under 35 in the back nine for a 75 that brought her to 151 and put her in shared third place with overnight leader, amateur Sneha Singh (78).

Sneha, the 15-year-old Hyderabad golfer who was outstanding on the first day, had a tough day despite three birdies. She had eight bogeys and one double bogey for seven-over 78 that saw her slip to Tied-third place.

Vani birdied the second, gave the gains back on the long Par-3 fourth and birdied the par-5 sixth as she turned in one-under. On the back nine, she dropped a shot on 12th, but birdied the Par-3 16th. Just as it seemed she was set for a big lead, she dropped a double bogey on Par-5 17th to fall back to one-over for the day and finished at 72.

Neha Tripathi (77), Gurjot Badwal (78), amateur Shreya Pal (76) and Khushi Khanijau (75) occupied the fifth to eighth places. Siddhi Kapoor (78) was ninth, while three players, Suchitra Ramesh (78), Gauri Karhade (79) and Amandeep Drall (82) were Tied-tenth.

Ridhima Dilawari and Gursimar Badwal were among the five players tied at 13th with a total of 160.

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