Japan’s Shugo Imahira secured a place in the 150th British Open at St Andrews later this year after claiming the Asia-Pacific Open Golf Championship Diamond Cup at Oarai Golf Club. In a photo finish to the tournament, Imahira prevailed by one shot on eight under thanks to a rock-solid finish of pars down the closing stretch, while his rivals were dropping shots. He closed with a two-under-par 68 with his compatriots Kosuke Suzuki, an amateur, Hiroshi Iwata, Kaito Onishi and Yuto Katsuragawa all in second place. Suzuki came charging out of the pack with a 63 – thanks to a brilliant back nine of five-under-par 30 – Iwata shot 68, while Onishi, who chipped in for birdie on 18, and Katsuragawa both carded 70s. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Asian Tour (@asiantour) The 29-year-old started the day one behind overnight leaders Onishi, Katsuragawa, Japan’s Ryuko Tokimatsu and New Zealander Ben Campbell but finished first, helped by a brave back nine made up of eight pars and a birdie, on the par-five 15th. “I am really happy with this victory. I haven’t really performed well this year, so I’m glad I am able to win early,” said Imahira, who won the JGTO money list title in 2018 and 2019 and whose last victory was the 2021 Fujisankei Classic. “The Open was my goal at the start of this season. My 172 world ranking isn’t good enough to get me into overseas events, so getting into The Open by winning this week is amazing. The goal was to be a major player rather than a prizewinner.” It was a different story for Iwata, Onishi and Katsuragawa on the homeward nine as they dropped shots at critical moments. Onishi and Katsuragawa, in particular, both made double bogeys, on 13 and 15 respectively, while the latter made a costly bogey on 17 which opened the door for Imahira. Yuto Katsuragawa turns in -2 to grab the outright lead by one over compatriot Ryuko Tokimatsu on -9. https://t.co/8hIu9R2WgB #DiamondCup #whereitsAT pic.twitter.com/zeFlbMiNt8 — Asian Tour (@asiantourgolf) May 15, 2022 Suzuki, 21, was the only player who got to grips with the back nine. He made three birdies in a row from the 11th and an eagle on 15, but having started the day seven off the lead the gap proved too big to close. In addition to pocketing a cheque for US$178,205, Imahira earned himself a place in the elite field for The Open in July – an event he has played in twice before. Campbell closed with a 72 to finish three behind the winner in a tie for eighth and also suffered from a disappointing finish that saw him double-bogey 17. “Very frustrated with the finish,” Campbell said. “Lost the ball on 17th. I thought it was on the fairway, but it actually went left. It was a week that could have been, unfortunately. But overall, still a positive week.” Thailand’s Itthipat Buranatanyarat produced one of his best rounds on the Asian Tour , a 66, to finish joint 11th. “I almost couldn’t make it to this event,” said Itthipat, a three-time winner on the Asian Development Tour. “I had issues with my visa applications because it was quite last-minute. I was on the reserve list and only got into the tournament five days before I flew. I am really happy with my result. This is my first Diamond Cup and the first Asian Tour event I’ve played in Japan.” The next event on the Asian Tour is the US$2 million International Series England at Slaley Hall Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort from June 2 to 5. The tournament is the second of 10 International Series events this season.