World amateur No 1 Keita Nakajima wins Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship | Golf News

World amateur No 1 Keita Nakajima can look forward to playing in the Masters next year after a birdie at the second playoff hole saw him pip Taichi Kho to the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship title

Last Updated: 06/11/21 6:32pm

Keita Nakajima won after a two-hole playoff

Keita Nakajima won after a two-hole playoff

Keita Nakajima earned an invite to the Masters after he edged out Taichi Kho to win the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Dubai.

Nakajima, who was already exempt for the US Open and The 150th Open, holed a 25-foot putt for birdie on the second extra hole after he and Kho had finished tied at the top on 14 under par.

The amateur world No 1 can now look forward to joining his Japanese compatriot and defending Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama at Augusta National in April, although he had to dig deep to recover from a poor start to his final round.

Three sub-70 scores had given Nakajima a one-shot lead after 54 holes at Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, but he found himself in the chasing pack after a bad mistake at the ninth led to a double-bogey.

Nakajima will now play in three majors next year

Nakajima will now play in three majors next year

But the 21-year-old fought back with three birdies in five holes, and he held his nerve to scramble a priceless par following a wild drive at the last to force a playoff with Kho, who made a clutch par save of his own on the 18th to return a 65.

The first extra hole was halved in par, but Kho then found water with his approach to the 18th green and Nakajima had the luxury of three putts to win, although he needed just the one.

Nakajima had been honoured earlier in the week with the Mark H McCormack medal for being top of the world amateur rankings, a lofty position previously held by Matsuyama and Takumi Kanaya.

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“Takumi has become a good friend and mentor to me, and we played on the national team together for some time,” said Nakajima. “He once told me to ‘confront yourself and keep challenging.’

“I really like that and will try and follow his advice. So I’m excited and I’m very happy to follow Hideki and Takumi. I have three major tournaments next year, and I can’t wait. It’s so nice. I think it’s an honour to attend this event, and I’m so happy to win. It’s a great tournament. I had a great week.”

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Kho added: “To be able to go head-to-head against him is truly an honour. It was really nice seeing him play these last two holes, and he’s the best in the world.

“It just motivates me because I feel like I’m not that far off. I feel like I’ve learned a lot in two holes playing with him, and I feel like I can bridge the gap.”

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