Played at St Andrews last July after finishing runner-up to Xander Schauffele in the Genesis Scottish Open the previous Sunday, thus earning himself the first of three spots on offer as part of The Open Qualifying Series.
Kitayama returns this year through the same series. March’s Arnold Palmer Invitational also had three places up for grabs and against a star-studded field, he claimed his first PGA Tour title by one stroke from Rory McIlroy and Harris English.
It lifted him to a career-high 19th on the world rankings, coming as it did five months after McIlroy had pipped him to the CJ Cup in South Carolina.
After coming through the 2018 DP World Tour qualifying school, he won only his third event on the circuit less than three weeks later.
That was the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open and a mere three months after that his second success on the circuit came at the Oman Open, making him the fastest player ever to win twice.
Was also part of a six-way play-off for the Turkish Airlines Open won by Tyrrell Hatton and just lost out to Robert MacIntyre in their duel to be Rookie of the Year.
Having turned professional in 2015, his world ranking three years later stood at 1,187th, but then came a victory on the Asian Development Tour.