By Asian Tour
The 41-year-old Muto halted a winless streak of four years after firing eight birdies against a bogey to cap a winning total of 21-under-par 263, setting a record lowest 72-hole score in the tournament that is celebrating its 10th edition this week.
Starting the day with a one-shot edge, Muto rode on his fine form to pull away from the chasing pack at the Higashi Hirono Golf Club. His four-shot triumph would also match the largest winning margin record in the tournament set earlier by Daisuke Maruyama in 2009.
"I am really glad that I played well today. It has been four years. It is a really long time. After opening with two birdies, I started to play a little less aggressive. I felt my swing was loose. So I talked to my caddy and we discussed about what to do," said Muto who would take home a winner’s prize purse of ¥30,000,000 (approx. US$267,613), thanks to his victory at the Higashi Hirono Golf Club.
"If I continue to play like that, with a loose swing, other players will be able to spot my weakness. So starting from the sixth hole, we decided to just go for the pins and try to make birdies," the Japanese added.
"I have been working with my caddy, Oda, for 12 years. He knows what I am thinking. He knows it when my mental game is not there or when I am losing concentration. He kept me focused and I did that on the back nine to win the tournament," said Muto, the second Japanese, following Yosuke Asaji, to win on the Asian Tour this season.
Shugo Imahira, who entered the week as the second highest-ranked Japanese on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), came in runner-up after closing with three straight birdies for a 67. Home favourite Ryo Ishikawa carded a commendable 66 to finish one shot back in third.
Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand battled to a 71 to finish in fourth place on 271. The result was enough to help him win the second edition of the Panasonic Swing series with 3,021 points and take home a top bonus prize of US$70,000.
Thai duo Poom Saksansin and Panuphol Pittayarat secured second and third places on the final Panasonic Swing rankings, earning US$50,000 and US$30,000 respectively from the reward scheme.
The ¥150,000,000 (approx. US$1,338,067) event, co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO), is the concluding leg of the 2018/19 Panasonic Swing.
The Panasonic Swing is based on an aggregate point ranking earned by players at the following five tournaments - 2018 Thailand Open, 2018 Panasonic Open India, 2018 Indonesian Masters, 2019 Maybank Championship (Malaysia) and 2019 Panasonic Open Golf Championship (Japan).