Still an amateur when he won the Japan Tour’s Mitsui Sumitomo Visa Taiheiyo Masters in 2019 - finishing 63-65 - and three weeks later his share of third place in the Emirates Australian Open was good enough for one of the three Open Qualifying Series spots on offer, because runner-up Louis Oosthuizen was already exempt.
Kanaya topped the amateur world rankings for 55 weeks and was awarded the Mark McCormack medal in September. Upon turning professional, he had to wait a mere month before lifting the Dunlop Phoenix title at the fourth play-off hole against Toshihiro Ishizaka in November. He then added the Token Homemate Cup in April.
He was only 20 when he made the halfway cut at the 2019 Masters and missed it by just one stroke on both his Open debut at Royal Portrush three months later and at September’s U.S. Open.
He nearly qualified for Royal Troon in 2016 aged 17, after finishing only one shot behind Yuta Ikeda in the previous season’s Japan Open. Kanaya was Japan’s Amateur Champion in 2015 and Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion in 2018, the same season in which he was the second leading individual at the Eisenhower Trophy World Amateur Team Championship in Ireland and a gold medal winner at the Asian Games.