Japanese golfer Mone Inami shot a 3-under 69 on Sunday for a one-stroke victory at the Japan Classic, an event co-sanctioned by the U.S. and Japan LPGA tours.
The 24-year-old Inami picked up her 13th domestic tour win and first since August 2022 with a 22-under 266 total at Taiheiyo Club’s Minori Course in Omitama, Ibaraki Prefecture.
Mone Inami hits a tee shot during the final round of the Japan Classic golf tournament at Taiheiyo Club’s Minori Course in Omitama, Ibaraki Prefecture, on Nov. 5, 2023. (Kyodo)
Inami, playing in the final threesome with overnight co-leaders Shiho Kuwaki and Nasa Hataoka, both of Japan, took sole possession of the lead with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 17th hole and tapped in for par on the par-4 18th.
“I’ve wanted to win at least once every year, but I had a strong feeling that I wouldn’t be able to get a win this year,” said Inami, who won eight times in 2021 alone. “It was good to win here.”
The victory by the 2020-21 Japan LPGA money leader earned her $300,000 and the right to play on the U.S. tour next season.
“I wonder if earning the option to compete on the world stage has opened up a new future for me. I’d like to decide what to do by consulting with my team.”
South Korea’s Bae Seon Woo and Kuwaki were tied for second after rounds of 67 and 71, respectively.
South Korea’s Shin Ji Yai (65) and China’s Lin Xiyu (67) shared fourth at 20 under. Hataoka, a six-time winner on the U.S. tour, was two further shots back in a tie for eighth after struggling to a 74.
Mone Inami celebrates after winning the Japan Classic golf tournament at Taiheiyo Club’s Minori Course in Omitama, Ibaraki Prefecture, on Nov. 5, 2023. (Kyodo)