Japanese Partnership Boost for APGC

APGC Chairman Taimur Hassan Amin with Akira Wakabayashi, Director of Nippon Kabaya Ohayo Holdings Inc.

Singapore: Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) Chairman Taimur Hassan Amin has hailed the formalisation of a partnership with Nippon Kabaya Ohayo Holdings Inc.

In a three-year agreement signed in Melbourne during last month’s Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, the Japanese company becomes an Official Partner of the APGC.

Furthermore, the APGC will support The Royal Junior, one of the foremost tournaments for high school students in Japan. The 54-hole event is staged at The Royal Golf Club, part of Nippon Kabaya Ohayo Holdings Inc’s portfolio.

Amin said: “We are delighted to welcome Nippon Kabaya Ohayo Holdings Inc as an Official Partner of the APGC. Given the commitment of the APGC to promoting junior golf and nurturing and developing stars of the future from our region, we’re especially proud to be associated with The Royal Junior.

“Gaining experience by performing in top-level tournaments against high-quality opponents at outstanding venues is crucial for developing their game. It is only after they’ve played with the best that they can determine what their standard is and what they need to do to get their game to the professional level.”

Akira Wakabayashi, Director of Nippon Kabaya Ohayo Holdings Inc., said: “The relationship with the APGC is very important to us. We look forward to continued co-operation with the APGC.

“Joining with the APGC will give a chance to a lot of good junior players to come to Japan to participate in The Royal Junior.”

Opened in 2017, The Royal Golf Club is the longest course in Japan, measuring 8,143 yards from the tips for the men and 7,000 yards for women.

“The concept was to make a golf course that is world standard. Most of the courses in Japan are not very long so we wanted to design a place where players can develop their golf skills,” said Wakabayashi.

The club quickly rose to prominence, staging the second edition of the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific (WAAP) in 2019, won in emphatic style by Japan’s Yuka Yasuda, now a Japan LPGA Tour player.

At the WAAP, she finished eight shots ahead of runner-up Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand, who went on to hold the number one position in the Rolex Women’s World Ranking last year.

The Royal Club also hosted the Japan Golf Tour Organisation’s Gateway to The Open Mizuno Open in 2018 and 2019.

Wakabayashi said: “For the first year of The Royal Junior, in 2022, we stuck to Japanese boys and girls. When I met Taimur, he was supportive so we decided to extend the tournament to include juniors from APGC countries.

“In 2023, we had 10 boys and 10 girls selected by the APGC and we hope to extend that to 15 for next year. It’s a very good experience for all of them – especially the Japanese students to be able to compete against foreign players. There are very few opportunities in Japan for them to do that while they’re at High School.”

Further kudos for The Royal Junior was afforded this year when The R&A granted exemptions to the boys’ and girls’ winners into The Amateur Championship and The Women’s Amateur Championship.

Dominic Wall, Director Asia-Pacific at The R&A, said: “The Royal Junior will continue to grow to become a historic event full of dreams and hopes for junior golfers in the region.”

Hiroshi ‘Andy’ Yamanaka, Executive Director at the Japan Golf Association, echoed those sentiments. He said: “With athletes from Asia-Pacific countries participating, we expect that the level of competition will be even higher.

“The Royal Golf Club is a very tough and highly strategic course and we look forward to witnessing players growing to be world-class after experiencing this tournament.”

The third edition of The Royal Junior is scheduled for April 19-21, 2024.

Amin said: “Congratulations to Akira Wakabayashi and the team at Nippon Kabaya Ohayo Holdings Inc for their vision and foresight in developing The Royal Golf Club and The Royal Junior.

“In The Royal Golf Club they have an outstanding venue which is a fitting home for a tournament of the stature of The Royal Junior. With the participation of leading boys and girls from APGC member countries, we believe the event will be elevated to a higher level.”

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