Japan's magical 2021 in golf continues as Nakajima wins McCormack Medal
Japan’s Keita Nakajima has won the Mark H. McCormack Medal as the top player in the 2021 World Amateur Golf Ranking.
Nakajima is a name that may be unfamiliar to most American golf fans as he plays mostly in Asia. He did participate in last week’s U.S. Amateur but failed to advance out of stroke play, his 80-71 eight shots short of a playoff for the Round of 64. However, the 21-year-old Nakajima did capture the Japan Amateur Championship and has had success on the Japan Golf Tour, highlighted by a runner-up at the 2021 Token Homemate Cup, a third-place finish at the 2020 Mitsui Sumitomo VISA Taiheiyo Masters and a top-10 standing at the 2020 Dunlop Phoenix.
“I am so excited and happy to have won the 2021 Mark H. McCormack Medal,” Nakajima said. “Heading into university, my goal was to be the No. 1 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. I want to give many thanks for the support of my family, university, national team coaches and teammates. Without them, I could not have achieved this. I am also very proud and honoured to be awarded the medal following Takumi Kanaya.
“My next goal is to demonstrate my abilities on the world stage with confidence and hopefully follow in the footsteps of my fellow Japanese players including Hideki Matsuyama, Nasa Hataoka, Takumi Kanaya and Yuka Saso.”
As winner of the McCormack Medal, Nakajima receives exemptions into next year’s U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., and the Open Championship at St. Andrews. Nakajima is the second straight Japanese player to win the award, following Kanaya.
The McCormack Medal is a joint award from the USGA and R&A given out annually since 2007 to the player leading the amateur ranking following the last “elite” amateur event of the season. Past winners include Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Joaquin Niemann and Matt Fitzpatrick.
Nakajima’s victory continues Japan’s magical run in golf this season following Hideki Matsuyama’s Masters victory, Tsubasa Kajitani winning the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, Hataoka falling in a playoff to Yuka Saso (whose father is Japanese) at the U.S. Women’s Open and Mone Inami capturing the silver medal in the Tokyo Olympics.