India’s Rahil Gangjee drilled two late jets for a strong start from 3-69 and 27th tied in the first round of the “Gateway to The Open” Mizuno Open on the Tour of Japan here.
The one-time 42-year-old winner of the Japan Tour had six birds against three bogeys at JFE Setonaikai Golf Club in Okayama Prefecture.
Inclement weather reduced the championship to 54 holes.
Gangji’s bird is in second and fourth before dropping a shot in fifth, but a bird in seventh and a ghost in ninth means he’s turned under one. On his ninth back he flew 11th, but was 13th and had consecutive birdies on the 15th and 16th to close with two pars for 69.
Veteran Katsumasa Miyamoto, who will turn 50 in August 2022, led nine and under 63 and led by one stroke over second-placed Taihe Sato. Miyamoto, winner of 12 titles in Japan, won for the last time in 2019 and finished second this year at the Japan Open.
The 28-year-old Sato, chasing his first win on the Japan Tour, was second after the 7-under-65 bogey. Azuma Yano and Todd Pike tied for third at 6-under.
Since 1993, the tournament has served as one of the qualifiers for the Open Championship. One of the highlights of the week is that R&A officials bring Claret Jug to the venue and showcase it in the first tee box.
A replica will be presented to the winner of the Mizuno Open and the first two winners will receive an invitation to The Open, which was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Utah Ikeda won the tournament, which was last held in 2019, and is now celebrating its 50th stage.
Play was canceled Thursday due to non-playable tournament conditions due to heavy rain. The tournament has now been reduced to three rounds. In accordance with Japan Tour regulations, the prize money is also reduced by 75 percent.