Ozaki, Maita, Watanabe share lead in Nikkei Cup
NIIHARU, Japan (AP) _ Japan’s winningest golfer, Masashi ``Jumbo″ Ozaki, fired a bogey-free 5-under-par 67 on Saturday and shared a one-stroke lead with Kiyoshi Maita and overnight leader Tsukasa Watanabe going into the final round of the Nikkei Cup Torakichi Nakamura Memorial.
Ozaki, the leading money winner with three titles in eight tries so far this season, sank four birdies before the turn and scored another on the back nine. He started the round two shots off the pace.
The round left Ozaki tied for the lead at a 54-hole total of 13-under 203 with Maita, who also shot a 67, and Watanabe, who had a 69.
The 50-year-old Ozaki, the oldest of three Ozaki brothers on the Japan PGA Tour, is seeking his 87th career victory. He has won 104 tournaments, including some classified as minor and second-tier.
When he sat out of the last two tournaments due to wrist injuries, his youngest brother, Naomichi ``Joe″ Ozaki, took advantage of his brother’s hiatus and won both events before heading for Scotland to compete in the British Open.
``I guess an 18-under would be enough to win,″ said Jumbo Ozaki. ``But I’ll aim at a 20-under and that’s why I need to regain the touch in order to sink putts of 4 to 5 meters (13 to 16 feet).″
He complained that he has missed all but just one of such putts in the first three rounds.
Ozaki is in contention for his second Nikkei Cup title. He won the event in 1988.
Maita, who has yet to win in 12 years as a pro, scored six birdies against a bogey, while Watanabe, in contention for his first victory in three seasons and fourth overall, had five birdies and two bogeys over the 6,980-yard, par-72 Fuji Country Dejima Club course in central Japan.
They all overcame the wind kicking up as Typhoon Rosie headed toward the Pacific coast in western Japan.
Taiwanese Yeh Chang-ting carded a 67 and shared fourth at 204 with first-round leader Satoshi Higashi, who had a 68, and Akio Nishizawa, who shot a 69.
Kazuhiko Hosokawa, winless this season, shot the day’s best round of 66 and placed seventh at 205.