Ryo Hisatsune became the first Japanese player to win in Continental Europe in over 40 years as he claimed the Cazoo Open de France in stunning fashion.
The 21-year-old DP World Tour Qualifying School graduate started the final round at Le Golf National four strokes off Jordan Smith’s lead, but burst into life on the back nine to capture Continental Europe’s oldest national open.
Hisatsune posted both a pair of birdies and bogeys on the front nine to make the turn at level par before a birdie at the tenth proved to be the catalyst for a brilliant title charge. Four more birdies followed, including a simple six-foot conversion at the tough 17th, and he closed out a five-under-par 66 with a par at the last to reach 14 under and secure a two-stroke victory.
Smith posted a one-over 72 to share second with Denmark’s Jeff Winther on 12 under, with Rasmus Højgaard finishing a shot further back in fourth.
Isao Aoki was Japan’s first DP World Tour winner at the 1983 Panasonic European Open and it would be 33 years before there was another thanks to Hideki Matsuyama at the WGC-HSBC Champions, with Matsuyama since adding another World Golf Championships title and the Masters Tournament to his collection.
The Japanese star’s victory moves him to 11th on the Race to Dubai rankings and gives him the opportunity to fight for a PGA Tour card for the 2024 season, on offer to the top ten members not already exempt at the end of the season.
Hisatsune said: “I only turned pro three years ago, the first years playing in Japan, then on to the DP World Tour through Q School. Now I’m here with my first win in my pro career – it’s so amazing. I would like to play on the PGA TOUR next season. It gives me a focus to get good results. I want to play in the States, but I also want to play all over the world.”