Japan Golf Tour (JGTO) star Keita Nakajima (JPN) missed his first cut of the season at the Shinhan Donghae Open in South Korea (total purse: 1.4 billion won).
Nakajima carded four birdies in the first round of the Shinhan Donghae Open, co-hosted by the Korea Professional Golf Association (KPGA), Japan Golf Tour (JGTO) and Asian Tour, at the par-72 Ocean Course in Incheon on Sunday, but combined a double-bogey with a bogey to shoot a 1-under 71. Nakajima is tied for 71st with David Puig (Spain), who shot an 8-under 64, in sole possession of the lead.
Nakajima is the leading star of Japanese men’s golf and one of the hottest players in the game. He is currently tied for the top spot on the money list on the Japan Tour with Takumi Kaneya.
He has been called the “future of men’s golf in Japan” since he was a junior. He was inspired to become a golfer after watching Tiger Woods play on TV, and he rose to prominence in 2015 when he reached the final of the Japan Amateur Championship in his junior year. He lost to Takumi Kaneya, but the mere fact that he reached the final at the age of 15 sent the Japanese golf world into a frenzy.
In 018, he won gold medals in both the individual and team events at the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games, and in 2021, he won the Japanese Amateur Championship and became only the fifth amateur winner in Japanese men’s professional golf history (since 1973) at the Panasonic Open. In 2022, he qualified for the Masters as the Asia-Pacific Amateur champion and won the McCormack Medal, which is awarded to the No. 1 amateur in the world, for the second straight year before turning professional in September.
Nakajima, who started playing full-time this year, has quickly risen to the top of the JGTO. With two wins on the season, he is in contention for the prize money.
Nakajima was on a roll when he suffered a heartbreaking defeat in June.
Japan’s Ji-Ho Yang fought to the end to win the Hana Bank Invitational, co-hosted by the Korean and Japanese tours at Izumi Golf Club in Chiba Prefecture, Japan, but fell one stroke short to settle for runner-up honors.
Nakajima, who was tied for the lead with Jang Dong-kyu after three rounds, dropped four strokes in the fourth round, but a 6-under 67 by Yang Ji-ho cost the South Korean the title at home.
For Nakajima, who lost the title to Yang Ji-ho three months ago, the Shinhan Donghae Open in South Korea was a bit of a revenge tournament. While he would have wanted to win this tournament more than anyone, his start on the first day did not live up to expectations.
Playing alongside Song Young-han and Kim Biao on the first, Nakamama made par through the sixth before picking up his first birdie of the day on the seventh (par-5), but a bogey on the eighth (par-3) ended his first round.
Her accuracy dropped in the second half. He birdied the 11th (par-4) but dropped two strokes with a double bogey on the 13th (par-5). He then made two birdies, but finished the first round in a tie for 71 and missed the cut.
Keita, who turned pro last September, missed his only cut at the Dunlop Phoenix Open in November. In 14 events this year, he has made the cut in all of them and has nine top-10 finishes, including two wins. His lowest finish of the season was a tie for 35th at the KBC Augusta Tournament two weeks ago.
“It means a lot to me to participate in the Shinhan Donghae Open as it is a tournament co-hosted by all three tours,” Nakajima said, “I’ve been playing well in Japan lately, so I want to continue that momentum in Korea.”
The first day’s action, which featured the top players from all three tours, was evenly split between Korean, Japanese and Asian Tour players.
Puig, who plays on the Asian Tour and LIV Golf, leads the field with Anthony Quayle (AUS) and Pacharat Kongwatmai (THA) tied for second 바카라사이트 (7-under 65), while Ok Tae-hoon, Ryutaro Nagano, Ryuko Tokimatsu, Riki Kawamodo (Japan) and Kieran Vincent (South Africa) are tied for fourth (6-under 66).
The 22-year-old pair of Kim Min-kyu and Cho Woo-young shot a 5-under 67 to move into contention for the title in a tie for eighth place.
“Korean Superstar” Park Chan-ho, who was nominated by the organizers to compete as a professional, shot a 15-over-par 87 in the first round and finished in a tie for 138th place. Park, who has been a featured player on the professional circuit since 2017 due to his high level of golf as an amateur, has yet to make the cut.