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Japanese amateur lives ‘dream’ by winning Masters spot

AFP-JIJI

Newly-crowned Asian amateur golf champion Takumi Kanaya said he was living out a childhood dream after emulating Japan’s top golfer Hideki Matsuyama by winning a spot in next year’s US Masters and British Open.

The 20-year-old Kanaya shot a five-under-par 65 Sunday to win the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship by two strokes over India’s Rayhan Thomas and compatriot and fellow Asian Games gold medal winner Keita Nakajima.

“This is simply like a dream. I have been dreaming of going to the Masters ever since I was a kid,” said Kanaya at Sentosa Golf Club after posting a 13-under par total of 267 after four days of competition.

Japan’s world No. 21 Matsuyama, 26, won the second of his two Asian Amateur title in Singapore in 2011 before turning professional and rising to as high as world number two last year on the back of five US PGA Tour wins.

“I never expected to play the Masters and The Open so early in my career so this is just huge,” said Kanaya after following in the footsteps of his role model.

He will now tee up alongside the world’s best professionals including Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy at Augusta for April’s Masters and in July at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland for the British Open.

“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 and Nakajima were both part of Japan’s gold medal winning team at the Asian Games in August. Nakajima also won the individual gold.