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Keita Nakajima cruises to maiden DP World Tour win in India

Keita Nakajima cruises to maiden DP World Tour win in India

Keita Nakajima won his first DP World Tour title in emphatic style as a closing 73 handed him a four-shot wire-to-wire win at the Hero Indian Open.

The Japanese entered the final round with a four-shot advantage and that was extended to nine as he turned in 33 and threatened to blow the rest of the field away at DLF Golf & Country Club.

He could not quite maintain that incredible pace on the back nine but his 17 under par total gave him a comfortable victory over home favourite Veer Ahlawat, Swede Sebastian Söderberg and American Johannes Veerman.

The win in just his 11th start moves Nakajima to 13th in the Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex and to the top of the Asian Swing standings.

Nakajima becomes the fifth Japanese winner in DP World Tour history and his victory, the seventh by a Japanese player, comes as part of a remarkable purple patch for his nation on Tour.

When Ryo Hisatsune won the Open de France in September just over 40 years after Isao Aoki had become the Tour's first winner from Japan, only Hideki Matsuyama's Masters Tournament win and two World Golf Championships triumphs had come in between.

But we now have multiple Japanese winners in the same season for the first time after Rikuya Hoshino - who sits second in the Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex - won last month's Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.

Hoshino took the same pathway to the DP World Tour as Nakajima, finishing second in the Japan Golf Tour Organisation Order of Merit in 2022, an Order of Merit which Nakajima won in 2023 with the help of three of his four wins on that tour.

Nakajima could now also follow Hisatsune's path to the PGA TOUR by obtaining Dual Membership via the Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex in another potential chapter in a career that saw him spend 87 weeks at the top of the World Amateur Golf Ranking.

"It feels amazing," he said. "I feel like this is the first win of a new professional career. This is my first year playing on the DP World Tour and I'm very proud to have won on the DP World Tour and very honoured to be playing here. I want to try and finish on the top ten on this tour and then go to the PGA TOUR in 2025.

"The win definitely gives me a lot of confidence in myself and I'm hoping now to take what I did this week and turn it into even more wins in the future.

"I was a little nervous and I had a tough back nine but I hit some great shots. 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's overnight lead was quickly increased to six as he holed a 15-footer from the fringe on the first and made a smart up-and-down on the par-five fourth to get to 20 under.

He looked to be in trouble on the sixth when his tee-shot found an awkward spot in the rough but a fantastic second left him around 35 feet for birdie and he drained it to open up a seven-shot advantage.

A bogey on the next after finding sand off the tee may have given the field a tiny glimmer of hope but with none of them able to make a big move, an up-and-down for birdie on the par-five eighth put Nakajima nine ahead.

He had bogeyed the 14th in the first three rounds and it haunted him again as he missed the green, went over the putting surface and then failed to get up and down to surrender a double-bogey.

That dropped him back to 19 under and all of a sudden his lead was down to five shots with four to play as Söderberg looked to post a threatening target.

The 33-year-old took advantage of the fourth and birdied the seventh to turn in 34 before holing a ten-footer on the tenth and also birdieing the next. The par-five 15th brought another gain and when he left himself a tap-in at the 17th, he was the nearest challenger and two clear of the players in third.

A 20-footer on the 15th had the lead back at six but Nakajima missed the green at the 16th, 17th and 18th to make bogeys, with Söderberg also dropping a shot at the last in his 67.

Ahlawat got the biggest cheer of the day with a tough putt for eagle on the 18th that saw him sign for a 71 also containing three birdies and four bogeys.

Veerman birdied the last in his 67, which was bogey-free and also included gains on the third, eighth, tenth and 13th.

French duo Jeong weon Ko and Romain Langasque, Malaysian Gavin Green and Italian Matteo Manassero finished at 12 under, one shot clear of Dane Jeff Winther and two ahead of German Yannik Paul.

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