Japan’s third win in Asia-Pacific Amateur
Takumi Kanaya followed in the footsteps of his famed countryman Hideki Matsuyama when he won the 10th Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) in Singapore last month.
Matsuyama, who is now an accomplished player on the PGA Tour in the United States, won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship twice, of which the second title was also in Singapore but at the venue of the Singapore Island Country Club in 2011.
This year’s event was at the New Tanjong course at Sentosa Golf Club and Kanaya, 20, was the highest-rated Japanese player in the field with a world amateur ranking of 22.
On the final day Kanaya shot an accomplished five-under-par 65 which gave him a 13 under par total of 267 for the four rounds. He was two shots ahead of Rayhan Thomas of India and Japanese compatriot and 2018 Asian Games gold medallist Keita Nakajima.
Kanaya’s win earned him an invitation to the 2019 United States Masters and a place in The 148th Open at Royal Portrush in Ireland.
Kanaya’s win continued some impressive form this year. He won two tournaments this year and also finished second in the individual standing of the World Amateur Team Championships.
The final day of the Asia-Pacific Amateur incurred a suspension of play due to inclement weather but Kanaya wasn’t fazed. Following the hour-long delay, he powered ahead of the field with three consecutive birdies starting at the 14th hole. After a bogey on the 17th, he went on to finish two strokes ahead of what had been a tight leaderboard throughout the day.
“This is simply like a dream,’’ Kanaya said.
``I have been dreaming of going to the Masters ever since I was a kid,” said Kanaya, who received a congratulatory call from Matsuyama moments after winning the championship.
“I never expected to play the Masters and The Open so early in my career so this is just huge. I played well throughout the day but I think the key for me was how I kept my calm and composure.”
Thomas was disappointed with the four-over 74 he had in the first round, which eventually made all the difference. He achieved the best-ever finish by an Indian in the decade-long history of the championship, however, comfortably beating Khalin Joshi’s tied ninth finish in 2010 in Japan.
Thomas, who made only one bogey in the last 45 holes, said: “One thing I definitely learned from this week is that you can’t win a championship of this level after starting with a four-over round.
“Irrespective of my score, I loved every moment of this great championship and I am glad that I have the chance to come back again next year knowing that I have the ability to win it.”
The leading New Zealander in the tournament was Daniel Hillier. He finished 13th at four under par with scores of 72, 65, 71 and 68.
The 11th edition of the Asia-Pacific Amateur will be played at Sheshan Golf Club in Shanghai, China, next year.