Sports

Keita Nakajima, top-ranked amateur golfer, secures trips to three major tournaments in 2022

Keita Nakajima completed one thing over the weekend that so hardly ever occurs within the golf world: he went out and proved that he was the No. 1 participant on the planet. Nakajima, the present No. 1-ranked golfer within the World Beginner Golf Rankings, took residence the Asia-Pacific Beginner Championship at Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Membership in a playoff to safe his bid to the 2022 Masters.

Final November, Nakajima turned the forty second golfer ever to rise to No. 1 within the WAGR, and has been there for over 40 weeks over the past yr. In rising to No. 1, he joined names like Rory McIlroy, Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, Hideki Matsuyama, Patrick Cantlay and present No. 1 within the non-amateur rankings, Jon Rahm. Nevertheless, none of his rivals cared a lot about any of that on Sunday when Nakajima needed to shoot 68 within the last spherical of the occasion simply to get right into a playoff in Dubai.

After ending at 14 underneath and splitting the primary playoff gap together with his opponent, Taichi Kho, Nakajima buried an extended birdie — that he did not want as a result of Kho hit his strategy within the water — to win the occasion and successfully enter his identify into the Masters in addition to the 2022 Open Championship at St. Andrews. Given these two tournaments have been at stake, that must be one of many extra highly effective 20-footers in newbie historical past. Nakajima additionally certified individually for the 2022 U.S. Open, which implies he might be within the discipline at three of the 4 majors subsequent yr.

“I’m very pleased with what I’ve achieved,” mentioned Nakajima. “To comply with within the footsteps of Hideki-san and Takumi [Kanaya] feels nice. I’m so excited that I might be enjoying three majors in 2022 I’m very grateful to the event for giving us such nice alternatives.”

As you’ll be able to most likely deduce by the course identify, this yr’s Asia-Pacific Beginner Championship was performed within the UAE, which is one of 42 countries that is part of the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation. The occasion has been held in China, Singapore and Australia (amongst different nations) prior to now, however this was its first go to to the UAE. The 2020 version was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however Yuxin Lin took the 2019 event in China (he additionally gained in 2017). Lin completed T7 this yr in Dubai.

Nakajima at present attends the Japan Sports activities Science College and said recently that he could flip professional towards the top of 2022. He performs commonly on the Japan Golf Tour however just lately completed T28 on the Zozo Championship, which was his first PGA Tour begin. He tied Olympic gold medalist, Xander Schauffele, in addition to Joaquin Niemann.

Nakajima is the third newbie from Japan to win the Asia-Pacific Beginner Championship, becoming a member of Kanaya, who he calls a great buddy and mentor, and Matsuyama, who he’ll attempt to get a apply spherical with at subsequent Masters the place Matsuyama would be the defending champion. All three are additionally former (or present!) No. 1 amateurs on the planet.

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