Major Targets on the Horizon for Rising Japanese Star

Singapore: On a high after being confirmed as the recipient of the Mark H. McCormack Medal as the leading men’s player in the 2020 World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), Takumi Kanaya is setting himself lofty new goals.

“I am extremely happy and excited because receiving the McCormack Medal was the biggest goal that I have set in my amateur golf career,” said the 22-year-old Japanese, who is competing in his first US Open this week at Winged Foot Golf Club.

With an announcement regarding his plans to turn professional expected imminently, Kanaya is already looking ambitiously to the future.

“My next goals are to win professional Majors and there is still a small chance that I could represent Japan in the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021, so I would like to try my best,” said Kanaya, winner of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in 2018 and runner-up last year, losing out to China’s Lin Yuxin in a play-off.

“I would like to thank everyone who helped me train and compete overseas so I could gain international experience competing in various conditions and raise my World Amateur Golf Ranking,” said Kanaya, who aims to join compatriot Hideki Matsuyama, a two-time Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship winner, as a regular on the PGA Tour.

Matsuyama was quick to offer a congratulatory message to Kanaya.

“Congratulations on being the first Japanese player to win the prestigious Mark McCormack Medal. I think you will be working as a professional golfer like me in the near future. I look forward to the day when we can fight in the same field, and as rivals. We will work hard together to prove that Japanese professional golfers can compete on the world stage,” said Matsuyama.

Gareth Jones, the Japan Golf Association’s National Team Head Coach, also had high praise for Kanaya.

Jones said: “Takumi’s efforts have been extraordinary in the last few years, including maintaining the number one position in the World Amateur Golf Ranking for the last 12 months.

“Takumi is a fine example of a team member. His performances on the golf course and his behaviour off the course have been great. I am very proud of what he has already achieved and I think he has a wonderful and exciting future in the game. He has already delivered a lot of wonderful memories to us – and I believe they'll continue.”

The USGA and The R&A co-award the McCormack Medal annually. It is named after Mark H. McCormack, who founded sports marketing company IMG and was a great supporter of amateur golf.

“On behalf of the USGA, I would like to extend our congratulations to Takumi Kanaya for earning the distinguished McCormack Medal,” said John Bodenhamer, USGA Senior Managing Director, Championships. “He is following in the footsteps of such accomplished past recipients as Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay and Joaquin Niemann. Takumi already has an exemplary record on a worldwide level and is a proven competitor. We look forward to watching him in the upcoming US Open at Winged Foot.”

Professor Steve Otto, Chief Technology Officer at The R&A, said: “This is a tremendous achievement for Takumi Kanaya in winning the McCormack Medal and we are all very proud of him at The R&A, having seen him progress within his native Japan and since winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.

“To perform at such a consistently high level is very impressive and Takumi deserves huge credit for being such an excellent ambassador for the sport. We wish him all the very best in The Open at Royal St George’s and the Tokyo Olympics next year and will follow his future career with great interest.”

The World Amateur Golf Ranking, which is supported by Rolex, was established in 2007 when the men’s ranking was launched. The men’s ranking encompasses more than 2,800 counting events, ranking 6,777 players from 106 countries. The women’s ranking was launched in 2011 and has a calendar of nearly 2,000 counting events with more than 3,375 ranked players from 78 countries.