Almost seven years have passed since Yoshinori Fujimoto last graced the field at The Open, with the Japanese pro finishing in a tie for 54th at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2012.
His long hiatus from most prestigious major will come to an end this year, though, when he lines up alongside a world class field at Royal Portrush to contest for The 148th Open in July.
Fujimoto was one of four golfers to book their place in Antrim through qualifying at the SMBC Singapore Open – the third event in The Open Qualifying Series.
The 29-year-old finished tied second as Jazz Janewattananond claimed the title, but his performance at the Serapong course ensured he will once again battle for the Claret Jug.
So, ahead of him touching down in Northern Ireland for The Open’s return to Royal Portrush this summer, here’s everything you need to know about Fujimoto.
Amateur potential realised
Fujimoto turned professional in 2012 after enjoying plenty of success as an amateur.
His greatest early triumph came when he won the individual silver medal at the 2011 Summer Universiade and led the Japan team to the gold medal.
On the back of that performance, Fujimoto joined the Japan Golf Tour the following year after making the step up and his first professional title was not far behind.
He claimed his debut victory at the Japan Golf Tour Championship Citibank Cup Shishido Hills in June 2012, shooting rounds of 68, 68, 67 and 68 for a two-stroke win.
That success qualified him for his first-ever major, The 141st Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2012, while he was also named the Rookie of the Year on the Japan Golf Tour.No fear on Open debut
It is more than understandable for debutants at The Open to feel the nerves as they attempt to plot their way around the course and progress through to the weekend.
But this was far from the case for Fujimoto, who was also making his major debut after his Japan Golf Tour victory earned him a place in the field at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
Rather than let the pressure get to him, he opened up with steady rounds of 71 and 70 on the Thursday and Friday to make the halfway cut with a couple of shots to spare.
While the Claret Jug was out of reach – Ernie Els was ultimately crowned Champion Golfer for a second time – Fujimoto remained remarkably consistent over the weekend.
Back-to-back rounds of 73 helped him finish in a tie for 54th and the experience clearly did him good as a second Japan Golf Tour title followed in 2013 at the Toshin Golf Tournament.
Return to The Open
There have been many near misses for Fujimoto since his last win on the Japan Golf Tour, including second-place finishes at the Kansai Open in 2014 and Heiwa PGM Championship in 2015.
He almost returned to the winners’ circle at the Singapore Open but his 16-under total fell two shots short of Janewattananond as he celebrated his return to The Open instead.
Fujimoto, who finished joint runner-up with Paul Casey, said: “I am very much looking forward to playing in The Open at Royal Portrush. I played The Open in 2012 and it was fantastic.
“It’s been a while since I last played in a major so I am looking forward to playing alongside the best golfers in the world and testing myself against a strong field.
“I have never played Royal Portrush and I know links golf is very difficult but I enjoyed the test the last time I played so it will be great.”