Good break for young players

TAKUMI Kanaya’s efforts to secure a European Tour card have been bolstered with an invitation to next month’s Saudi International tournament.

A former Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship winner, Kanaya turned professional late last year and won the Dunlop Phoenix Masters on his fourth outing as a pro on the Japan Golf Tour.

As well as representing his country in this year’s Tokyo Olympic Games, 22-year-old Kanaya is aiming to secure playing rights on both the US PGA Tour and European Tour.

“I am very thankful to the Saudi Golf Federation for extending me this invitation, ” said Kanaya. “It will be a very important experience to play alongside so many of the best players in the world and a huge opportunity for me.

“One of my goals is to earn my European Tour card so I will be hoping for a strong showing on my first visit to Saudi Arabia.”

Invitations to compete at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club from Feb 4-7 have also been given to leading amateurs Saud Al Sharif of Saudi Arabia and Jordan’s Shergo Kurdi.

Al Sharif, who impressed on the 2020 Mena Tour, said: “We are very fortunate to have such a high-profile event in our country and I feel very honoured to be representing Saudi Arabia in a field of such high-quality global golfers.”

Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi CEO Majed Al Sorour said: “We are excited to announce these invitations for the upcoming Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers. The inclusion of these players will inspire the next generation to follow in their footsteps and support our goal to grow the game of golf in the Kingdom.”

Among the headline names in the field are world number one and 2020 Masters champion Dustin Johnson, 2020 US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau and leading European Tour winners Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Shane Lowry, Tyrrell Hatton, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood and defending champion Graeme McDowell.