Japan's Takumi Kanaya, No. 1 in WAGR, set to turn pro
Takumi Kanaya (USGA photo)
Japanese amateur sensation Takumi Kanaya is an amateur no more.
The winner of the 2020 Mark McCormack Medal (as the top amateur in the World Amateur Golf Rankings in 2020) announced on Friday that he will turn pro, with his first event to be the Japan Open Championship, October 15-18.
Kanaya, 23, was exempted into the U.S. Open based on winning the McCormack Medal. He missed the cut -- and the chance to earn low amateur honors -- by a single shot after rounds of 72 and 75 at Winged Foot. (John Pak would go on to be low amateur as the only one of 13 in the field to survive the cut.)
Kanaya rose to the top of the WAGR rankings on the heals of big wins, such as the 2018 Asia Pacific Amateur, a win that earned him exemptions into the 2019 Masters and Open Championship.
Kanaya made the cut at the 2019 Masters, but finished 8-shots behind low amateur Viktor Hovland at 5-over.
But in November, Kanaya's career prospects grew brighter, as he claimed a victory on the Japan Golf Tour at the Mitsui Sumitomo VISA Taiheiyo Masters. Kanaya, posting 13-under, did not receive prize money due to entering as an amateur. But he did get something that could be just as valuable -- exempt status on the Japan Tour through 2021.
It's likely that Kanaya, who plans to finish college at Tohoku Fukushi University in the spring, will play most of his golf in Japan. With one notable exception.
Kanaya earned a spot in the 2021 Open Championship at Royal St. George’s, thanks to a third-place finish at last year’s Australian Open. He will look to improve on his performance in the Open Championship as an amateur in 2019, where he bogeyed the final hole at Royal Portrush to miss the cut by a single shot.
Kanaya hopes to play his way on to the European Tour by 2022. We're not betting against him.