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Japan's Takumi Kanaya, No. 1 ranked amateur in the world, set to turn pro

October 02, 2020

Amateur Takumi Kanaya of Japan walks a fairway during a practice round prior to last month's U.S. Open.

Jamie Squire

While the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed plans of several top American amateurs to turn professional in 2020, Japan’s Takumi Kanaya isn’t waiting any longer. The world’s top-ranked amateur announced on Friday that he will make his pro debut later this month at the Japan Open Championship.

The 23-year-old’s distinguished amateur career included a win at the 2018 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, which earned him spots into the 2019 Masters and Open Championship. At August National, he made the cut and finished T-58. Then last November, he became the fourth amateur in history to win an event on the Japan Golf Tour. That victory secured him playing privileges on the tour through the end of 2021, making the decision to jump to the pro ranks far easier.

At the end of the summer, Kanaya earned the Mark McCormack Medal for the top amateur in the world in 2020. His ranking also earned him an exemption into last month’s U.S. Open at Winged Foot, where he missed the cut in what would be his final event competing as an amateur.

In addition to a place to play in Japan, Kanaya also already has secured a spot in the 2021 Open Championship at Royal St. George’s, thanks to a third-place finish at last year’s Australian Open.

Kanaya, who attends college at Japan’s Tohoku Fukushi University, says he still plans to graduate in the spring. He also says that he hopes to play his way on to the European Tour by 2022.

In addition to turning pro, Kanaya announced on Friday that he has signed with WME Sports as his management company.