Victorian Matthew Griffin continues to push for his maiden win on the Japan Golf Tour, finishing just two shots shy at The Crowns tournament in Nagoya on Sunday.
Tied for the lead through 36 holes after an extraordinary back nine of seven-under 28 led to a second round of eight-under 62, Griffin and fellow Australian Anthony Quayle set out on the last day within reach of the leaders.
A final round of one-under 69 was enough for Katsumasa Miyamoto to hold on and claim a 12th Japan Golf Tour title, one shot clear of Shugo Imahira with Griffin a further shot back in a two-day tie for third, his second top-three finish in as many starts to begin the season.
Second behind Brendan Jones at the season-opening Token Homemate Open, Griffin eased the disappointment of falling just short with the knowledge that the breakthrough win gets closer each time he is in contention.
“Not the win I was after, but if I keep playing this way it won’t be far away,” Griffin posted on Twitter on Sunday evening.
Although he hit just 50 per cent of fairways on Sunday, it was on the greens where Griffin kept himself in the hunt, ranking first for the week in putting average.
Turning in one-under 34, Griffin reached two-under for his round with a birdie at the par-4 10th but bogeys at 13 and 18 after missing both greens with his approach shots saw him sign for a two-under 68, two shots shy of the victor.
While Griffin solidified his place in the top three on the Order of Merit, it was a major move for Queenslander Quayle who rose to 17th in the rankings courtesy of his tie for fifth, just one shot behind Griffin.
Opening with a three-under par 67, it was a consistent week for Quayle who added rounds of 69-70-68 at a tournament that is quickly becoming a favourite, coming on the back of his runner-up finish last year in his rookie season.
It looked as though he would go one better than 12 months earlier when he held a share of the lead after a birdie at the par-4 12th but perhaps pushing too hard to secure the biggest win of his career, Quayle made a bogey at the next hole and a three-putt double-bogey at the 14th to slip out of contention.
Won Joon Lee was the next best of the Australians, finishing in a tie for 15th, one shot to the better of Queenslander Brad Kennedy who was tied for 18th.
New Zealand’s Michael Hendry moved up to a tie for 26th on the back of his final round of three-under 67 with Dylan Perry and Brendan Jones also qualifying for the weekend.
• In addition to the Volvo China Open co-sanctioned with the European Tour, the Asian Tour was in South Korea for the 38th GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship won in a playoff by Korean Taehee Lee.
Big-hitting Jake Higginbottom and Jason Norris topped the Aussie representatives in a tie for 23rd with Terry Pilkadaris a shot back at three-over for the week and tied for 28th. Junseok Lee and Doeun An were a further shot back in a tie for 33rd, An’s fourth round score of four-under 67 equal to the third best score of the final round.
JAPAN GOLF TOUR
Nagoya Country Club (Wago Course), Aichi
T-3 Matthew Griffin 72-62-71-68—273 ¥6,960,000
T-5 Anthony Quayle 67-69-70-68—274 ¥3,878,00
T-15 Won Joon Lee 69-70-70-68—277 ¥2,064,000
T-18 Brad Kennedy 70-65-69-74—278 ¥1,764,000
T-26 Michael Hendry 71-70-72-67—280 ¥984,000
T-48 Dylan Perry 68-75-68-74—285 ¥345,600
T-68 Brendan Jones 72-73-75-71—291 ¥262,800
MC Adam Bland 72-74—146
MC David Bransdon 77-70—147
The 38th GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship
Namseoul Country Club, South Korea
T-23 Jake Higginbottom 74-71-70-71—286 $US8,181
T-23 Jason Norris 73-71-74-68—286 $8,181
T-28 Terry Pilkadaris 70-73-70-74—287 $6,990
T-33 Junseok Lee 72-72-71-73—288 $6,536
T-33 Doeun An 72-73-76-67—288 $6,536
MC Ben Campbell 74-73—147
MC Travis Smyth 76-74—150