Shanghai, China: Takumi Kanaya will be bidding to follow in the footsteps of fellow-Japanese Hideki Matsuyama when he tees-off at next month’s 11th edition of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC).
Currently second in The R&A’s World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), Kanaya has set his sights on emulating PGA Tour star Matsuyama by retaining his AAC title – and earning a return trip to Augusta National.
Matsuyama, now a five-time PGA Tour winner, claimed consecutive AAC titles in 2010 and 2011, the only player to do so in the event’s history and the only player to date to have won the title more than once.
Having triumphed at Singapore’s Sentosa Golf Club last year, Kanaya is hoping to complete his own ‘double’ at Shanghai’s Sheshan International Golf Club from September 26-29.
However, the Japanese is unlikely to have things all his own way with a host of other genuine contenders for the crown, and the prize of a starting spot at the 2020 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club and a place in The 149th Open at Royal St George’s, at stake. The runner(s)-up will secure a position in The Open Qualifying Series.
Leading the challenge will be Australians David Micheluzzi and Blake Windred (fourth and 10th respectively in the WAGR) and Chinese Taipei’s Yu Chun-an, ranked 11th.
As of August 21, five confirmed players in the field were ranked within the top 25 in the WAGR and 12 in the top 100. Included in that group are 2018 AAC runners-up Keita Nakajima of Japan (22nd) and Indian Rayhan Thomas (51st).
Spearheading the home charge will be by Lin Yuxin, winner of the 2017 AAC at Royal Wellington Golf Club in New Zealand. As the host nation this year, China will have the largest contingent with 10 players in the championship.
Australia will have the highest-ranked contingent, with four of its six players (the maximum allowed per member country) inside the top 100 of the WAGR. In addition to Micheluzzi and Windred, there is Karl Vilips (50th) and Jack Thompson (90th).
A full field of 120 players from 41 Asia Pacific nations are expected to compete in the championship, which is returning to China for the third time. The country hosted the inaugural Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in 2009 at Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzhen, followed by the 2013 edition at Nanshan International Golf Club in Longkou City, Shandong.