Vincent braced for Sansan KBC Augusta defence in Japan

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Scott Vincent poses with the Sansan KBC Augusta trophy after capturing his maiden JGTO title last year

Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent will be seeking a first successful title defence of his professional career when he competes in the Japan Golf Tour (JGTO)’s Sansan KBC Augusta at Keya Golf Club in Fukuoka this week.

The 30-year-old secured his maiden JGTO title exactly 12 months ago, winning by just a shot from Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa.

That breakthrough feat turned out to be a huge stepping stone for Vincent as barely three weeks later, he swiftly added a second by capturing the ANA Open.

Vincent clinched his third title on his third start of the season, triumphing in the Gateway to The Open Mizuno Open in May.

The Zimbabwean will be banking on his impressive record at the 7,103-yard, par-72 course, where he also finished a creditable joint sixth during his debut in 2019.

And on Thursday morning he gave himself a very good chance of successfully defending his title after opening his campaign with a solid round of five-under-par 67, just two strokes behind the clubhouse lead held by Taisei Shimizu.

“I’m excited to be back to defend the KBC Augusta title. I’m coming in on good memories and always love playing on this course,” said Vincent, who finished tied-15th at the Asian Tour’s International Series Korea last week.

“My game is shaping up nicely, so hopefully I’ll play well enough to contend again.

“It’s said that defending title is harder than winning it, so we’ll see.”

Vincent has been on a red-hot streak run in Japan thus far, having impressed with another two top-10 finishes including a share of seventh at the Japan PGA Championship three weeks ago.

Joining the list of international competitors in this week’s field are former runners-up Australia’s Brad Kennedy and New Zealand’s Michael Hendry (2016), and South Korean duo Ho Sung Choi (2018) and Jung Gon Hwang (2014).

The other notable entrants include JGTO winners Shaun Norris of South Africa, Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines, Australia’s Brendan Jones and Kyung Tae Kim, Young Han Song of South Korea.

Current number one Money Ranking leader Kazuki Higa will be one of the former champions to look out for.

He was crowned the 2019 winner in emphatic fashion with a record-setting 26-under-par total.

Three-time champion Yuta Ikeda is also in the fray along with other former winners Daijiro Izumida (2018), Ishikawa (2016), Hideto Tanihara (2010), Katsumasa Miyamoto (2007)and Taichi Teshima (2006).

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