Komei Oda goes into the season-ending Nippon Series JT Cup well placed to secure his first career money title on the Japan men’s tour. Three others can still overtake him, but nothing less than the tournament title will be enough for them.
Oda, who has two wins on the tour this season, heads the elite field of 30 who qualified for the ¥130 million tournament, which begins today at the Tokyo Yomiuri Country Club in western Tokyo.
Oda doesn’t necessarily need to win the tournament to secure the money title, but that’s what he will be aiming for.
“To me, the person who wins [the tournament] is the money king,” Oda said.
Oda leads the money rankings with ¥130.80 million, followed by Hiroyuki Fujita with ¥115.28 million, Tomohiro Kondo with ¥105.20 million and Hiroshi Iwata with ¥96.65 million.
With a top prize of ¥40 million, any of the three can pass Oda with a victory. Fujita would finish on top outright by winning the tournament. As second place pays ¥15 million, Oda would still finish on top if he finishes alone in second and Kondo wins the tourney, or he finishes alone in fourth or higher with Iwata as the victor.
With the Yomiuri course subject to swirling winds that can change the complexion of the tournament, Oda spent time on the practice range Tuesday working on both high and low shots.
Fujita, the only past money leader of the four, having won it in 2012, has been bothered recently by left shoulder and arm problems. He received a pain-killing shot on Monday.
“It’s 90 percent Komei’s,” Fujita said of the money title.
But the 45-year-old Fujita cannot be counted out, having won the Nippon Series three straight years from 2010.
“I like the atmosphere of the course, and I’m confident because I’ve always played well here,” he said.
Kondo is in good form, having won his first tour title in three years at the Heiwa PGM Championship in November.
“As long as I still have a chance, I might as was well go for it,” he said.