Japan’s Kanaya wins Asia-Pacific Amateur, spot in Masters

Kanaya

SINGAPORE — Japan’s Takumi Kanaya closed with a 5-under 65 Sunday to win the Asia-Pacific Amateur on Sunday and earn a spot in the Masters and British Open next year.

Kanaya capped off a 64-65 weekend at Sentosa Golf Club for a two-shot victory over Rayhan Thomas of India and Keita Nakajima of Japan, who was coming off a gold medal in the Asian Games.

Kanaya, who finished at 13-under 267, received a congratulatory phone call from Hideki Matsuyama, a two-time winner of the Asia-Pacific Amateur. Matsuyama also won in Singapore in 2011 when the tournament was held at Singapore Island Country Club.

“This is simply like a dream,” Kanaya said. “I have been dreaming of going to the Masters ever since I was a kid. I never expected to play the Masters and the Open so early in my career, so this is just huge.”

Thomas was 15 under over his final three rounds after opening with a 74. He still had the best finish by an Indian player in the 10-year history of the Asia-Pacific Amateur, which was created by Augusta National Golf Club and the Royal & Ancient.

By finishing second, Thomas and Nakajima are exempt into the final stage of British Open qualifying next summer.

“One thing I definitely learned from this week is that you can’t win a championship of this level after starting with a 4-over round,” said Thomas, who made only one bogey over his last 45 holes.

There was a one-hour suspension of play because of inclement weather, but Kanaya returned from the break and made three consecutive birdies beginning at the 14th hole.

“I played well throughout the day but I think the key for me was how I kept my calm and composure during the round,” Kanaya said.

Lin Yuxin of China was trying to join Matsuyama as the only back-to-back winner of the event, but Lin shot 75 in the final round and slipped into a tie for ninth.

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