Will be at Royal Portrush for his maiden Open appearance as the reigning Japan Open champion, his first victory on his home tour coming in October by two strokes from South African Shaun Norris.
That win lifted him from 211st in the world to a career-high 115th and also to second place on the circuit’s money list.
It was his sixth top-ten finish of a season which also included a tie for third at the Japan PGA Championship, where he was only one shot away from being involved in the play-off in which Toru Taniguchi beat Yoshinori Fukimoto.
First made a mark on the Japan Tour at the age of 19 when a closing 66 lifted him into joint second behind Satoshi Kodaira at the 2014 Dunlop Srixon Fukushima Open.
He had another runner-up finish at the following year’s Bridgestone Open, where he was the joint halfway leader before being overtaken by Michio Matsumura.
He also shared the lead with a round to go in the 2016 Heiwa PGM Championship, but three bogeys in the last six holes left him in third place three adrift of Hideto Tanihara.