Japan's Takahiro Hataji holds his trophy aloft after winning the...

Japan's Takahiro Hataji holds his trophy aloft after winning the New Zealand Golf Open at the Millbrook Resort, in Arrowtown, New Zealand, Sunday, March 3, 2024. Credit: AP/Evan Barnes

QUEENSTOWN, New Zealand — Takahiro Hataji won his first professional tournament and became the first Japanese player to win the New Zealand Golf Open Sunday when he took out the 103rd edition of the event at the Millbrook Resort.

Hataji shot a flawless 4-under final round of 67 for a four-round total of 17-under-par to win by a stroke from Australian Scott Hend.

Hend came to the 72nd hole tied with Hataji in first place. He hit his tee shot on the par-3 18th to the back of the green and his putt for the championship ran past the hole. Hend’s return putt lipped out, leaving with a final round 69, alone in second place.

The 50-year-old Hend was bidding to overtake Kel Nagle as the oldest-winner of the New Zealand Open in the modern era.

Hataji became the first Japanese winner of a tournament on the Australasian PGA Tour since Isao Aoki in 1989.

“It was a really tough day but I have the trophy so I am feeling very happy now,” Hataji said. “I’m happy but (Hend) played very well so when his putt missed I felt a bit sorry for him too.”

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