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Paul Joins Local Favourites at ISPS HANDA Championship Lead in Japan

Yannik Paul

Germany’s Yannik Paul joined a trio of local favourites at the top of the leaderboard after the first day of the ISPS HANDA Championship in Japan, which was interrupted by dense fog at the Taiheiyo Club Gotemba Course.

Despite the delay, Paul delivered a stellar performance, scoring a 65 to sit at five under par alongside Japan’s Tomoyo Ikemura, Taisei Shimizu, and Taiki Yoshida.

The early morning fog caused nearly three hours of delay, impacting several groups, with only two-afternoon groups completing their rounds by day’s end.

Local golfer Taiga Nagano also sat at five under, but with seven holes remaining due to the disruption.

The championship is part of the Asian Swing and is co-sanctioned by the Japan Golf Tour Organization.

Behind the leaders, Keita Nakajima, the most recent Japanese winner on the DP World Tour, along with compatriots Yuki Inamori and Ryosuke Kinoshita, finished at four under, tied with China’s Li Haotong, South African Casey Jarvis, Swede Sebastian Söderberg, and Scot Connor Syme.

Paul’s outstanding performance featured a birdie spree on his opening nine holes.

Starting from the tenth hole, he birdied the 11th, 14th, 15th, and 18th to turn in a score of 31.

A 45-foot putt on the second hole gave him a solo lead at six under. Despite two bogeys on his closing nine, he maintained a solid round with one additional birdie, finishing at five under.

Yannik Paul reflecting on his round said: “Putted nicely. My putting coach came to Arizona two weeks ago, we changed quite a few things, that was the first time I had seen him in a while outside a golf tournament. Better time to change some stuff”.

“Worked nicely today, holed some good putts. Was hitting it OK, nothing special. Capitalised on my chances”.

“Played the pro-am yesterday and the ball was going nowhere (in the rain). It was brutal. I used the blow dryer for about an hour to get the bag somewhat dry”.

“It was nice to play yesterday but the course played completely differently today”.

“The greens are amazing, you can’t ask for better greens. Nice to see some good lines, make some putts”.

The first round will resume at 6:30 AM on the second day, with all second-round tee times facing a one-hour delay due to the fog-related disruption.