Nakajima holds on to win Indian Open for first European tour title

NEW DELHI (AP) — Keita Nakajima of Japan chose to focus on the European tour instead of a smaller American circuit and made the decision pay off Sunday when he closed with a 1-over 73 to win the Hero Indian Open.

Nakajima had a two-shot lead to start the final round at DLF Golf and Country Club and made four birdies in the opening eight holes. That stretched his lead to nine shots, and then it was only a matter of finishing. He shot 40 on the back nine and still won by four for his first European tour title.

“The win definitely gives me a lot of confidence in myself and hoping now to take what I did this week and turn it into even more wins in the future,” Nakajima said.

Nakajima, whose 87 weeks as No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking are more than anyone, won for the fourth time in the last 10 months. The other three were on the Japan Golf Tour last year and enabled him to win the Order of Merit.

Finishing as No. 1 in Japan gave the 23-year-old Nakajima a European tour card, along with status on the Korn Ferry Tour, which feeds the PGA Tour. The victory moves him to No. 13 in the Race to Dubai, and No. 9 among those who do not already have PGA Tour status.

The leading 10 players after the season get PGA Tour cards.

Veer Ahlawat of India (71), Sebastian Soderberg of Sweden (67) and American Johannes Veerman (67) tied for second.

No one had a serious chance at winning the way Nakajima started, and his only frustration was the way he finished. He took double bogey on the 14th hole, bounced back with a birdie, and then closed with three straight bogeys.

Nakajima finished on 17-under 271.

“There were a number of tough holes on the back and I was frustrated with my play finishing with three consecutive bogies and of course the double bogey," Nakajima said. “But fortunately I had a few strokes in the bank which I can credit back to my strong play on the front nine and the earlier rounds this week, so overall very proud of my performance.”

Nakajima is the third Japanese player to win on the European tour in the last seven months. Rikuya Hoshino won the Qatar Masters in February, and Ryo Hisatsune won the French Open last September that helped him get one of the 10 PGA Tour cards.

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