Takumi Kanaya wins Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship

Takumi Kanaya wins Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship
Takumi Kanaya wins Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship
(Image credit: AAC)

Japan’s Takumi Kanaya fired a closing 65 to win the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship and earn a place in both the 2019 Masters Tournament and the 148th Open Championship.

Takumi Kanaya wins Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship

Takumi Kanaya of Japan closed with a 65 at Sentosa GC in Singapore to win the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship by two shots from his countryman Keita Nakajima and India’s Rayhan Thomas.

Kanaya is the first player from Japan to win the title since Hideki Mastuyama won in back-to-back seasons in 2010 and 2011.

Organised by the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) in conjunction with The R&A and The Masters Tournament, as winner of this tournament Kanaya receives: An invitation to compete in the 2019 Masters Tournament plus direct entry into The 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush in 2019. He will also receive an exemption into The Amateur Championship to be played at Portmarnock.

"It's simply like a dream come true to me," said Tanaya. "I always dreamed of playing in The Masters and The Open Championship... I received a call from Hideki Matsuyama when I walked off the course and that was amazing. He won this title twice and I'd love to come close to playing as well as he did... I've played in the British Amateur before and I know how important it is to control the ball on the links. I look forward to testing myself in those conditions again at Portrush."

By finishing as runners-up Keita Nakajima and Rayhan Thomas receive a place in The Open Qualifying Series with the opportunity to qualify for the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush.

Takumi Kanaya began the final round at Sentosa two shots back of leader Yuxin Lin of China but, as defending champion Lin faltered, Kanaya pushed forward to take a superb win and claim the incredible prizes that sit alongside the title.

With nine holes of the final round still to play at Sentosa GC, the players were forced to leave the course because of a threat of lightning. At that point the two Japanese players; Kanaya and Nakajima, held a one stroke lead at 11-under-par. But with eight players within three shots, the event was still wide open.

Nakajima moved in front when play restarted after one hour and 11 minutes delay, picking up a birdie on the 10th to get to 12-under. 2015 champion Cheng Jin of China fell back with consecutive bogeys at 11 and 12 and it started to look like a four-horse race between Nakajima, Kanaya, India’s Rayhan Thomas and Lloyd Jefferson Go of the Philippines.

Keita Nakajima finished tied second

Keita Nakajima finished tied second

Nakajima made steady pars from the 11th to the 15th but the 18-year-old was then joined at 12-under by his countryman Kanaya who picked up a shot at the short par-4 14th. Kanaya then birdied the 15th and 16th holes to reach 14-under and establish a two-shot lead. When Nakajima three-putted the 17th, Kanaya was three ahead.

The 20-year-old from Hiroshima dropped a shot at the 17th but he kept his cool and made a solid par on the 72nd hole to secure the victory.

Rayhan Thomas of India, who was playing a few groups in front of the other three in contention, birdied the 12th to get within one and then kept his good score going with par saves on the 13th and 14th holes. But he was unable to save par from just off the green on the 15th and dropped back to 10-under. He bounced right back though with a birdie on the par-5 16th. He finished on 11-under-par and that was good enough to finish tied second.

Rayhan Thomas was a runner-up

Rayhan Thomas was a runner-up

“This event means a lot to me, it’s my third time playing and I’ve had a blast,” he said. “Four-over in round one was disheartening and to come back from that was great. The opportunity to qualify for The Open Championship is incredible. I love Ireland and I played there in the World Amateur Team Championship so it would be fabulous to get back there.”

Nakajima who tied for second with Thomas is also thrilled at the prospect of competing in Open Qualifying.

“It will be a great chance to learn from the players involved in that event,” he said. “It’s really a wonderful chance we have.”

Lloyd Jefferson Go of the Philippines had a putt on the final green at Sentosa to move into a tie for second place but it narrowly missed and he had to settle for fourth spot.

K.K Limbhasut of Thailand was fifth and 2015 AAC winner Cheng Jin of China was sixth. Ervin Chang of Malaysia posted the round of the day. He carded a six-under-par 64 to climb into seventh place.

Yuxin Lin snaps his putter

Yuxin Lin snaps his putter

Defending champion Yuxin Lin of China fell away in the first half of the final round, he dropped back to seven-under after three dropped shots. Another one went at the 12th and he broke his putter in frustration. He used an iron to putt from there on and finished back in a tie for ninth.

It was testament to the success of this tournament in developing golf in the Asia-Pacific region that no fewer than eight nations were represented in the final top-10. Next year's Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship will take place at Sheshan Golf Club near Shanghai from September 26-29 2019.

Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship – Final Scores

1 Takumi Kanaya (Jap) 69 69 64 65 267 T2 Rayhan Thomas (Ind) 74 64 65 66 269 T2 Keita Nakajima (Jap) 67 68 67 67 269 4 Lloyd Jefferson Go (Phi) 65 67 69 69 270 5 K.K. Limbhasut (Tha) 66 68 68 69 271 6 Cheng Jin (Chn) 65 67 70 70 272 7 Ervin Chang (Mal) 72 69 68 64 273 8 Sadom Kaewkanjana (Tha) 68 66 73 67 274 T9 Gregory Foo (Sin) 70 69 69 67 275 T9 Won-Jun Lee (Kor) 68 67 68 72 275 T9 Zheng Kai Bai (Chn) 66 67 69 73 275 T9 Yuxin Lin (Chn) 69 69 62 75 275

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?