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Japan's best test Okinawa links in PGA championships

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2007-05-11

The grass is a vivid green and the weather perfect for the 75th annual Japan Professional Golf Association Championships that kick off today at Kise Country Club in Nago City.

Dozens of Japan’s best golfers are among 255 registered to play the links, hoping to take away a chunk of the Y130 million in prize money. The winner will walk away with Y26 million. South Korea’s S.K. Ho, who won the 2004 and 2005 Japan PGA titles, will be among those participating on the special green grass being used for the first time ever in Japan.

The grass is designed to be strong, able to withstand the tropical heat.

Organizers predict the course will be fast, with golfers facing the challenge of a ball running quickly over this slippery new grass. The Sea Shore Pass Palm grass was added to Kise Country Club course exclusively for this PGA Championship match.

The Japan PGA Championships date back to 1926, when only six professional golfers took part. Tomekichi Miyamoto won that first Japan title. The event has run continuously, except for a six-year break 1942~1948 due to World War II and its immediate aftermath. Torakichi Nakamura was one of those participating in 1949; he didn’t win then, but went on to win the PGA Championship three times beginning in 1957. Another at the 1949 championships was Toichiro Toda, who swept the event in 1938~1940. Since then, no golfer has managed a three-peat.

There’s plenty to see and do for spectators at this year’s championship event. A Gallery Stamping Event is featured all four tournament days.

Purchase an application card for Y500 inside the Master’s Events Tent.

There’s a spot for getting stamps as you travel the different holes on the course. Prizes are awarded at the completion point following each day’s events.

Kise Country Club is a course laid out with breathtaking panoramas of Okinawa’s island waters. The best views of the ocean are from theTee Boxes, while the most breathtaking hole on the course is the par 3, 186-yard 14th hole with its ocean view and breeze.

Spectators can also register predictions as to who will win the Japan PGA Tournament. Simply fill out the form and cast a vote at the entry area.

A Kids Driving Contest takes place on Saturday morning. Two age brackets, 1~10 and 11~12 are open to competitors who will drive three balls, with the five best participants moving up to the championship round of the contest.

Professional golfers will be available throughout the tournament for photo opportunities with kids and their families. Golf equipment manufacturers will all be exhibiting their wares at booths around the Kise Country Club.

Most will be offering special sales prices on their products.

The Cost

Spectator tickets are Y4,000 for Thursday~Friday play, and Y6,000 for Saturday~Sunday action. Children 12 years of age and under may enter free.

Getting There

There are two ways to Nago City. By expressway, go to the final exit at Kyoda, then head south for one kilometer, where you will see the signs for both the Japan PGA Championships and Kise Country Club. By Highway 58, travel north from the military bases toward Nago City. The Highway 58 route takes about one hour from Kadena Air Base.

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