New York, United States: Takumi Kanaya, the world’s top-ranked amateur player, will tee-off his campaign at the 120th US Open in the company of fellow-Japanese Shugo Imahira and Korean An Byeong-hun.
The only all-Asian grouping will set out at 1.49 pm (Eastern time in the US) on Thursday from the 10th tee at Winged Foot Golf Club with much of the attention likely to be focused on Kanaya.
Winner of the 2018 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC), the 22-year made international headlines last week when he was named as the recipient of the Mark H. McCormack Medal as the leading men’s player in the 2020 World Amateur Golf Ranking.
Now he’s seeking to further underline his reputation with a strong showing before deciding if the time is right for him to relinquish his amateur status.
In total there are 19 players from Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation member countries in the 144-strong US Open starting line-up. They represent six countries – Australia (seven players), Japan and Korea (four each), New Zealand (two) and Chinese-Taipei and Thailand (one each).
Of those, no fewer than nine have participated in the AAC, including past champions Hideki Matsuyama and Kanaya from Japan and Australian Curtis Luck.
Joining them this week is Chinese Taipei’s Yu Chun-an, third in the WAGR and twice a top-five finisher at the AAC.
The five other AAC alumni, who have since turned professional, competing in this week’s Major are Australians Cameron Smith (fourth in Singapore in 2011) and Lucas Herbert (tied fourth in China in 2013), Kiwi Ryan Fox (tied 17th in 2011), Korean Kim Si-woo (2011) and Thai Jazz Janewattananond (2010).
Hideki Matsuyama is involved in one of the showpiece groupings that will see him playing alongside Major champions Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth (7.56 am).
By the time, Matsuyama tees-off, Luck and Fox will already be well into their rounds. They go out in the first flight of the championship at 6:50 am, with rising star Brandon Wu completing their threesome.