It looked like Japan's favorite son was going to dazzle the crowd once again, but it was an unlikely champion and a fantastic shot that prevented that from happening.
Jung-Gon Hwang, the 23 year old from Korea, fired a final round 66 to win the Casio World Open for his third Japan Tour victory. It is Hwang's first victory since 2012, which came at the same tournament.
Half of the victory can be credited to Hwang. The other half can be credited to Ryo Ishikawa. The "Bashful Prince", one of the most popular athletes in Japan, entered the final round with the lead. He extended that lead with a front nine 32, and it appeared as if Ishikawa was going to coast to his second victory of the season. A double bogey on the 12th, however, brought him back to the field. After a bogey on the 14th, coupled with a Hwang birdie, Ishikawa found himself trailing for the first time. An Ishikawa birdie on the 17th set up a final hole showdown at the par 5 18th.
Ishikawa outdrove Hwang by 30 yards on the 18th, but Hwang crushed his approach shot, which landed within 10 feet of the hole. He would sink his eagle putt, much to the disappointment of the crowd. Ishikawa would birdie the hole to secure his solo second finish.
Hwang has had a decent season. He has missed six cuts, but five of them came in the first nine starts of the year. This week was his seventh top 10 of the season, including four of his last five starts. He has moved to 7th in the Japan Tour money list.
Ishikawa notches his third top 10 of the season on the Japan Tour, and finally shows some positive signs after several low finishes in a row. He has played his way into the final event of the season, the limited field Golf Nippon Series JT Cup, next week.
Shingo Katayama continues his strong season with a solo third finish. Katayama now has eight top 10s this season, including a victory. Katayama entered this week ranked 73rd in the world rankings, and his position is expected to rise after this week. The 42 year old has plenty to play for next week.
Two players finished T4. The first was Ryotaro Nagano, who has played his best season in his career. Nagano, who is still seeking his first victory, has four top 10s this season with only three missed cuts.
The other player at T4 was Yoshinori Fujimoto, who notches his fifth straight top 10 finish. Fujimoto now has ten top 10s this season, but he is still seeking his first victory since 2013. Fujimoto is currently ranked fourth in the Japan Tour money list, the highest of any player without a victory.
For the first time in months, Kyung-Tae Kim was nowhere to be seen near the top of the leaderboard. Kim finished in a disappointing T31, his first finish outside the top 25 in 10 weeks. Kim, however, has clinched the Japan Tour money list, and will be playing next week to try and secure an invitation to The Masters.