Golf-Hataji staves off Hend challenge to lift New Zealand Open title


  • Golf
  • Sunday, 03 Mar 2024

(Reuters) - Takahiro Hataji withstood a tough challenge from joint overnight leader Scott Hend to become the first Japanese winner of the New Zealand Open in its 103-year history, with his four-under 67 in the final round on Sunday securing a one-shot victory.

Hataji produced a birdie at the 12th hole to grab the sole lead at the $1.22 million event co-sanctioned by the Asian and Australasian PGA Tours, before Hend caught up with him at 17-under after the 17th hole at Queenstown's Millbrook Resort.

With a playoff looming, Hataji managed par on the final hole but Australian Hend, who was superb on the greens throughout the day, missed a four-foot putt for par which gifted the title to his Japanese opponent.

Hataji finished on 17-under for the tournament while Hend, who started the final round tied for the lead with compatriot Matthew Griffin, managed 69 to settle for second place, with a group of three finishing behind him in joint third.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Jamie Freed)

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