Strange shares the lead in the $A2.6 million event and currently 112th on the Japan Tour money list he needs something special in this potentially season ending event if he is to retain status on that tour.
The leading 60 players at the completion of this week secure their status for the 2019 season and although there is one final event to play at next week’s Golf Nippon Series tournament in Tokyo those players fighting for survival will not be included in that field.
Strange has yet to win on the Japan Golf Tour since heading there from Europe in 2014 after securing good finishes in jointly sanctioned events in early 2013.
Three runner-up finishes in Japan Tour events have come his way but he has been unable to reach the level which saw him reach well inside the top 100 in the world when winning events such as the Celtic Manor Wales Open and the Volvo China Open in the late 2000’s.
An hand injury issue plagued him for much of 2017 and even though he has been able to play in 2018 he has had to apply a different grip on the club because of the injury. It has proved most bothersome in cool conditions.
Strange, though, has made the cut in three of his last four events including at last week’s Australian Open where he finished 17th, a disappointing third round of 76 costing a chance of finishing much higher.
Strange shares the lead with Japan’s Yosuke Asaji and Terumichi Kazaku and Korea’s Ho Sung Choi, the quartet one ahead of Shota Akiyoshi.
Brendan Jones is the next best of the Australians in a share of 9th place at 4 under and three from the leaders.
Brad Kennedy is another shot back in 14th place, a position he shares with New Zealander Michael Hendry, while Matthew Griffin is 28th.
Hendry is playing this week's event after being a contender for New Zealand's second spot in their World Cup team but he needs a good week to secure his standing on the Japan Tour for next season. A continuation of his start should get the job done.
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