Japan's next star golfer: Is it Takumi Kanaya or Keita Nakajima? Or will it be both?

golfweek -- Jan 13
As the first Japanese winner of a men’s major, Hideki Matsuyama’s victory at the Masters in April is expected to making a lasting impact in golf crazed Japan. But the reverberations from his rise to international golfing star can already be felt in two of the country’s most promising talents.

Keita Nakajima, the current No. 1-ranked amateur in the world and winner of the 2021 Mark McCormack Medal, and Takumi Kanaya, a former World No. 1 amateur who competes mainly on the Japan Golf Tour (JGTO) and finished the year at No. 49 in the Official World Golf Ranking, are both in the field this week at the PGA Tour’s Sony Open in Hawaii just as they will be in April at the Masters. Neither pro needed much prodding to heap praise on Matsuyama, who enters the week ranked No. 19 in the world and won the Zozo Championship in November.

“First and foremost, his playing self is second-to-none, and not only me but a lot of the Japanese players have been inspired to play well on U.S. soil,” said Kanaya.

Nakajima added of Matsuyama, “He’s a superstar in Japan. I want to catch up to Mr. Hideki and Mr. Takumi, as well.”

The 21-year-old golfer is off to a good start. He canned a 25-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to defeat Taicho Kho and win the Asia-Pacific Amateur and book his ticket to the Masters.