Lucas Herbert beat Aaron Cockerill in a play-off to win the 2023 ISPS HANDA – CHAMPIONSHIP and secure his third DP World Tour title.
Australian Herbert got the job done at the second extra hole, recovering from an errant tee-shot before holing from 12 feet to banish the memory of the travel issues which saw him arrive late into Japan on Wednesday.
Extra holes were required after both players finished the tournament on 15 under par following a thrilling final round in the historic first event to be co-sanctioned by the DP World Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organisation.
After Herbert had narrowly missed his 20-foot birdie try at the 18th, Cockerill played the 72nd hole knowing a birdie would be enough to clinch his first title.
But having found the fairway with a perfect drive, Canadian Cockerill sent his second shot into a greenside bunker – and it looked like Herbert had the advantage.
Cockerill produced a stunning recovery from the sand, though, almost holing his bunker shot before tapping in for a par to force a play-off.
Both men were just off the green after two shots at the first extra hole, with Herbert slightly further back in the fringe.
After Herbert missed his birdie try, Cockerill’s effort looked to be heading in before an agonising lip-out extended the contest.
Despite sending his tee-shot at the second extra hole into the trees, Herbert managed to knock his second shot onto the green and roll in the putt to claim the title.
Scotland’s Calum Hill was alone in third on 14 under after his closing 65, one shot ahead of countryman Grant Forrest and home favourite Hiroshi Iwata.
With ISPS Handa donating $1,000 for every eagle made during the tournament to the G4D Tour, the tally reached at $40,000 by the end of the week.
Lucas Herbert: It’s great. Obviously coming on board as an ambassador for ISPS Handa this year, it’s great to win an event with them as the title sponsor. And just to be back in Japan and win as well. I’ve come here so many times and loved it so to get back here and win, it means a lot.
I think it’s cool to be able to win everywhere and have a lot of good memories from all the spots in the world where you have played.
Pretty special (the up and down on second play off hole). I got pretty lucky over there on the right to get a good lie after we dropped it. Nick (caddie Nick Pugh) gave me the number and it was basically perfect. It was exactly what you’d want off that lie.
So it was good to hit a good shot in there. And then my hand was shaking all over the place just to get the putt started on line, and to have it fall in was pretty cool.
I probably tried to tell myself a lot through the week that I was the best ranked player here. That got me through a lot of the tough moments where I didn’t have the confidence to hit the shots that I thought I could.
You look at the best players in the world over the years where they have gone to events where they are the best player in the field and won, so it’s very satisfying.