Gangjee starts with 3-under 69, tied 27th in Mizuno Open

The 42-year-old one-time winner on the Japan Tour had six birdies against three bogeys at the JFE Setonaikai Golf Club in Okayama Prefecture.

Rahil Gangjee clinched the Panasonic Open Golf Championship in 2018 for his only win on the Japan Golf Tour.   -  Getty Images

India's Rahil Gangjee holed two late birdies for a solid 3-under 69 start and a tied 27th position in the first round of the 'Gateway to The Open' Mizuno Open on the Japan Tour here.

The 42-year-old one-time winner on the Japan Tour had six birdies against three bogeys at the JFE Setonaikai Golf Club in Okayama Prefecture.

Inclement weather has reduced the tournament to 54 holes.

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Gangjee birdied second and fourth before dropping a shot on fifth but a birdie on seventh and a bogey on ninth meant he turned in one-under. On the back nine he birdied 11th, but bogeyed 13th and had back-to-back birdies on 15th and 16th to close with two pars for 69.

Veteran Katsumasa Miyamoto, who turns 50 in August 2022, took the lead with a superb 9-under 63 and a two-shot lead over second place Taihei Sato. Miyamoto, winner of 12 titles in Japan, last won in 2019 and was second this year at Japan Open.

The 28-year-old Sato, seeking his maiden win on the Japan Tour, was lying second after a bogey free 7-under 65. Azuma Yano and Todd Baek were tied third at 6-under.

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Since 1993, the tournament has been serving as one of the qualifiers for The Open. One of the highlights of the week is that the R&A officials bring the Claret Jug to the venue and display it at the first tee box.

The winner of the Mizuno Open will be presented with a replica and the top two finishers get an invitation to The Open, which was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tournament, last held in 2019, was won by Yuta Ikeda and is now celebrating its 50th staging.

Play on Thursday was cancelled due to the unplayable course conditions caused by the heavy rain. The tournament has now been reduced to three rounds. As per Japan Tour regulations, the prize money is also reduced by 75 per cent.

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