Back in The Open after a seven-year gap thanks to finishing joint runner-up with Paul Casey in January’s SMBC Singapore Open, part of The Open Qualifying Series with four places up for grabs.
Turned professional at the end of 2011 and the following June won the Japan Tour Championship Citibank Cup. A month earlier had the first of 11 second places on the circuit, but there has been only one more victory – the 2013 Toshin Tournament. Was heading for success in last year’s Japan PGA Championship, but after he bogeyed the 17th Toru Taniguchi birdied the last and took the resultant play-off. Made the halfway cut by three strokes in The Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2012 – it was his first and last appearance in Europe - and later the same season represented Asia against Europe at the Royal Trophy.
He won his fourball with Ryo Ishikawa against Francesco and Edoardo Molinari, having lost to them in foursomes, and his last-green singles victory over Marcel Siem led to an 8-8 tie, Asia winning the subsequent play-off thanks to YE Yang and KT Kim. “I know links golf is very difficult, but I enjoyed the test the last time,” he said.