Jeddah, Saudi Arabia: Takumi Kanaya’s prospects of gaining his European Tour card have been boosted with an invitation to line-up in next month’s star-studded Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers.
A former Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship winner, Kanaya turned professional late last year and won on his fourth outing as a pro at the Japan Golf Tour Organisation’s Dunlop Phoenix Masters.
As well as representing his country in this year’s Tokyo Olympic Games, 22-year-old Kanaya is aiming to secure playing rights on both the PGA Tour and the European Tour.
“I am very thankful to the Saudi Golf Federation for extending me this invitation,” said Kanaya. “It will be a very important experience to play alongside so many of the best players in the world and a huge opportunity for me. One of my goals this year is to earn my European Tour card so I will be hoping for a strong showing on my first visit to Saudi Arabia.”
Coveted invitations to compete at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club from February 4-7 have also been afforded to leading amateurs Saud Al Sharif of Saudi Arabia and Jordan’s Shergo Kurdi.
Al Sharif, who impressed on the 2020 MENA Tour, said: “We are very fortunate to have such a high-profile event in our country and I feel very honoured to be representing Saudi Arabia in a field of such high-quality global golfers.
“This will be my third time playing and each year I gain such invaluable insight into what it takes to be a top golfer. I hope that all the work I have been putting into my game since last year pays off and I can make everyone proud by becoming the first player from the Kingdom to make the cut.”
Meanwhile, 17-year-old Kurdi became the first player from the GCC and Middle East countries to earn Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points with his runner-up finish on the MENA Tour at the Journey to Jordan tournament at the Ayla Golf Club in Aqaba.
“We are very excited to announce these invitations for the upcoming Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers. The inclusion of these players will inspire the next generation to follow in their footsteps and support our goal to grow the game of golf in the Kingdom,” said Majed Al Sorour, CEO of the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi, an Executive Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
“Our ultimate goal at Golf Saudi is to grow the game of golf, so the maximum amount of people are aware and can experience the benefits and value of the game. As we embark on the third edition of our tournament, it feels right that we are also supporting so many young international players who look set to be the stars of tomorrow.
“We hope their experience of Saudi Arabia will be their first of many visits and they will be part of our journey in developing develop a vibrant and sustainable golfing nation,” he added.
Among the headline names in the field are world number one and 2020 Masters champion Dustin Johnson, 2020 US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau and leading Europeans Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Shane Lowry, Tyrrell Hatton, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood and defending champion Graeme McDowell.