Japan's Nakajima claims first World Tour win in India

motorsport31 March 2024 14:20| © AFP
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Keita Nakajima @ Gallo images

Japan's Keita Nakajima cruised to victory by four shots at the Hero Indian Open golf on Sunday, despite a final-round stumble, for his first World Tour title.

Nakajima, 23, finished with a 17-under par total of 271 despite a one-over 73 in the last round, well clear of home favourite Veer Ahlawat, Sweden's Sebastian Soderberg and US golfer Johannes Veerman.

The former amateur world No 1 had led by four shots going into the final round and appeared to be untroubled until he came to the back nine at the DLF Golf and Country Club near New Delhi.

"It feels amazing," said Nakajima, the fifth Japanese winner of a World Tour event. "I was a little nervous and I had a tough back nine but I hit some great shots."

"I want to try and finish on the top 10 on this tour and then go to the PGA Tour in 2025."

Nakajima quickly increased his overnight lead to six with birdies at the first and fourth holes, adding another on the sixth before dropping his first shot of the day on the next hole and then regaining it on the eighth.

That slight wobble became more serious with a double bogey on the par-4 14th.

He clawed one stroke back on the next hole by sinking a 20-footer but then missed three successive greens to finish his round with bogeys on the 16th, 17th and 18th holes.

However, none of his rivals was able to capitalise on Nakajima's stumble, with Soderberg also dropping a shot at the last to finish with a 67.

Ahlawat gave the home crowd something to cheer about when he sank a tough putt for eagle on the 18th but his one-under final round on the Gary Player-designed course was also laced with four bogeys.

Veerman also closed with a 67 in a steadier round in which the American didn't drop a shot.

French duo Ko Jeong-weon and Romain Langasque, Malaysian Gavin Green and Italian Matteo Manassero finished at 12 under, one shot clear of Dane Jeff Winther and two ahead of German Yannik Paul.