Friday, 26 May 2017
Japan Open Becomes a Premier Event

From the success of the 2004 Japan Open, Hero Disc and Innova Champion Discs had a strong foundation upon which to build their high quality Japanese competition and experience.  The 2006 Japan Open was again held at Nasushiobara, but, for the first time, was recognized by the PDGA as a “Major Event."  With this elevated status and the tremendous experiences being brought home by the players, the 2006 Japan Open attracted 113 competitors from six different nations, showing a promising trend towards what the Japan Open hoped to be…a magnet event that can bring the disc golf world together to celebrate our sport, as well as the wonders of the Japanese culture. 

With the top players in the world again making the trip to Tochigi, the Nasu Highlands management had all the proof they needed to appreciate how dedicated and passionate our players are about disc golf. Again Steve Rico and Avery Jenkins battled it out for the title, with Steve taking advantage of an errant drive by Avery on the first hole of sudden death to claim the victory. The then reigning world champion Nate Doss and multiple world champion Barry Schultz rounded out the final four, who put on a spectacular show of distance, accuracy, and, most importantly, professionalism. 

Ohio’s Valarie Jenkins moved up the standings from her 2004 third place finish to win the women’s title.  She won by the slimmest of margins over Juliana Korver.  Unlike 2004, however, the American contingent filled the finalist grouping.  Naoko Inami, a perennial PDGA World Championship participant, was the top Japanese finisher on the women’s side, grabbing sixth place behind Carrie Berlogar. 

In addition to the amazing competition on the course, Hero Disc added even more to the festivities with a traditional tea ceremony, abundant meals throughout the day, and western style lodging for all the guests of the tournament.  The growth of the Japan Open in 2006 has been rippled throughout the disc golf community.  Those who attended could only shake their heads in amazement and appreciation at the hospitality of their hosts, as well as having the privilege of playing a disc golf course that magically appears, and then disappears every two years in Brigadoon-like fashion.