Inspired by the dazzling deeds of Mikumu Horikawa and the prospect of Olympic glory, more than 200 youngsters will tee-off in this week’s Faldo Series Japan Championship.
Horikawa wrote his name into the Faldo Series Asia history books with his victory in the eighth Grand Final at Mission Hills Shenzhen this year.
His reputation was further enhanced last month when he led the Japanese charge in the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at Royal Melbourne Golf Club, finishing runner-up and gaining entry into the Open Qualifying Series.
Now aged 22, Horikawa is ineligible to defend his Faldo Series Japan Championship title. Nonetheless his name is certain to loom large among the record field at the Shishido Hills Country Club and Shizu Hill Country Club.
Among those aiming to follow in the footsteps of Horikawa and two-time Faldo Series Asia champion Masamichi Ito are current national team member Kenta Hiraishi, a strong favourite in the Boys’ Under-21 category.
Of the more than 70 females in the starting line-up at the World Amateur Golf Ranking event, attention will focus on Minami Hiruta, this year’s Japan Women’s Amateur Championship winner, and Chisato Hashimoto, a qualifier at the 2014 US Women’s Open.
While victory this week and a place in the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, to be hosted by Sir Nick Faldo at Mission Hills next March, will be uppermost in the minds of the players, many will also be looking a little further ahead.
Michio Matsukawa, Tournament Chairman, Faldo Series Japan Championship, said: “The Olympic Games will be held in Tokyo in 2020. I hope some of the competitors in this week’s Faldo Series Japan Championship will go on to become Olympic medallists.”
Six-time Major championship winner Sir Nick, Britain’s most successful golfer, said: “That Japanese players have won the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final in two of the last three years is testament to the high standard of play among elite amateurs in the country.
“It’s also a tribute to the work of the Japan Golf Association in promoting the game that we have more than 200 boys and girls taking part in the 2014 Faldo Series Japan Championship. It is, without doubt, one of the largest fields in the history of the Faldo Series.”
Supported by The R&A, ISPS and Mission Hills and endorsed by the Asian Tour and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, the 2014-15 Faldo Series Asia campaign stretches over 11 months and is made up of a minimum of 20 championships.
Recognised as the only global amateur series for boys and girls, the Faldo Series was established in 1996, expanding to Asia in 2006.
Today, 40 Faldo Series tournaments take place in 30-plus countries worldwide, touching more than 7,000 golfers each year. Past winners include Tseng Ya-ni and Rory McIlroy, who took his tally of professional Major titles to four with his wins at July’s Open Championship and August’s US PGA Championship.
For more information on the Faldo Series, please visit: http://nickfaldo.com/about-faldo-series. You can also follow the Faldo Series on Facebook at www.facebook.com/faldoseries and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/faldoseries