In a field loaded with world class talent, an unlikely champion found himself at the top of the leaderboard by weeks end.
Yuzaku Miyazato fired a final round 69 to win the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix by two shots. The win is Miyazato's third Japan Tour victory.
The day did not start off well for Miyazato, who was the overnight leader following a third round 64. Bogeys on one and four brought him back to the pack, and several players found themselves with a good chance to win. Miyazato was able to settle into the round, however, and was bogey free from that point. Three birdies on the back nine sealed the victory for the 35 year old from Higashi.
After turning professional in 2001, it took Miyazato 12 years to pick up his first victory at the 2013 Golf Nippon Series JT Cup. He has been one of the most consistent players on Tour since that moment, and has now won once each of the past three seasons. This, however, is by far Miyazato's biggest victory.
Miyazato has been knocking on the door to victory all season. He finished T4 in his most recent start, and was the runner up at the ANA Open. In all, Miyazato has finished inside the top 10 nine times this season, with five top 5 finishes. Miyazato missed four cuts to open the 2015 season, and hasn't missed a cut since.
Finishing two shots back was the top ranked Japanese player in the world, Hideki Matsuyama. Matsuyama, who was playing on a sponsors exemption since his Japan Tour card for revoked, fired a final round 67, which included an eagle on the final hole. Bogeys on his second and third holes, however, doomed his chances. In Matsuyama's most recent start, he withdrew from the WGC-HSBC Champions with a foot injury. Completing four rounds and getting into contention makes this week a successful tournament for him. His next event will be the PGA Tour's unofficial event, the Hero World Challenge.
Also finishing as a runner up was Yoshinori Fujimoto. Fujimoto briefly held the lead on Sunday after Miyazato began his stumbles, but Fujimoto ran out of holes as Miyazato began his back nine charge. It still marks the four consecutive top 10 finish for Fujimoto. He continues to search for his third Japan Tour victory, but he may not have to search for very long.
PGA Tour player Will Wilcox fired a final round 66 to finish T7. He was one of the several visiting PGA Tour professionals playing on the Japan Tour this week. Also competing this were were Danny Lee, who finished T9, and Tony Finau, who finished T34. They all performed better than Jimmy Walker, who failed to make the cut.
Kyung-Tae Kim continues to be a part of the conversation even when he isn't winning. The leader of the Japan Tour's Money List finished T9, five shots back. Kim has locked up the Money List title, and will be competing in several big events next season. He has finished inside the top 10 an astonishing 14 times, including five victories. He finished T27 at the WGC-HSBC Champions.
The same could not be said of his nearest competitor, Yuta Ikeda. Ikeda was well in position to win the tournament, but a final round 78 sent him plummeting down the leaderboard, resulting in a T34 finish. Ikeda still holds a spot inside the top 100 in the Official World Golf Rankings, but has not been a factor on Sunday in three of his last four starts. With Ikeda's struggles, Miyazato is now expected to jump him in the Money List standings.
Last week's winner Shingo Katayama, who has skyrocketed to 78th in the World Rankings, finished T11 this week. Hideto Tanihara finished T15. Ryo Ishikawa struggled all week, and finished at T52.
Only two events remain on the 2015 Japan Tour. Next week is the Casio World Open.