Barnes in valiant title defence in Japan

Muswellbrook’s Kurt Barnes put up a stout defence of the ANA Open title he won in 2011, finishing with a final round 5-under par 67 on Sunday to finish a shot behind winner, Hiroyuki Fujita, at the Sapporo Golf Club’s Wattsu Course in Japan.

Barnes started the final round four shots behind in-form Korean Hyung-Sung Kim in a log-jam of ten players tied for third at 10 under par.

Kurt Barnes Kurt Barnes (Credit: Anthony Powter)

Kim held an overnight two shot lead over Fujita, Japan’s highest ranked player, but a final round 71 was not good enough to hold the lead in a low scoring final round.

Fujita’s final round 68 for a 16 under par total held off Barnes (67) who shared second place with China’s Wen-Chong Liang (64), Japan’s Yuta Ikeda (67) and Kim. Barnes earned ¥7,040,000 (AUD $85,080) for his best result in Japan in 2012, only a few weeks after a tie for 4th at the Vana H Cup KBC Augusta tournament.

The win was 43-year-old Fujita’s third on the Japan Golf Tour this season and vaulted him ahead of Australia’s Brendan Jones to number one on the Order of Merit.

New Zealander Richard Lee (T31st) and Brad Kennedy (T37th) were the other Australasians to make the cut.