Justin De Los Santos will be seeking to translate some of his title-chasing performances into a breakthrough victory when the Panasonic Open Golf Championship gets underway at Onotoyo Golf Club on Thursday.
The 27-year-old Filipino has registered three top-six finishes this season including a tied-sixth at the ANA Open last week.
Although De Los Santos' most impressive finish to date was an outright fourth at the Gateway to The Open Mizuno Open, it was at the ISPS Handa Championship that he made a genuine title push.
The one-time ABEMA Tour winner was tied for the lead after the penultimate stage but fizzled out just when it mattered most to settle for joint sixth.
Still, De Los Santos will surely be encouraged by the progress he made thus far considering he entered this season with just a limited status from QT.
“I’m also learning and trying to improve my golf game every day. Like how I tackle each hole on the course, I feel I just have to be patient and my breakthrough in Japan will eventually come,” said De Los Santos.
De Los Santos is currently ranked a creditable 25th on the JGTO Money Rankings, the fifth-best among the international competitors, after cashing in ¥15,127,207 - more than what he earned from the entire 2020/21 season.
While De Los Santos knows he now stands a good opportunity in securing a full Tour card for next season by finishing inside the top 65 at the end of the season, he will be out to make it even better by becoming a Tour winner and receiving a two-year exemption.
Despite being held on a different course this year, De Los Santos will be banking on good memories from the last edition.
It was at Joyo Country Club last year that De Los Santos turned in his best performance of the season when he posted a career-low third-round nine-under 63 en route to finishing tied-sixth for the tournament.
Besides De Los Santos, the other current best-performing international members who are in the field this week include Australian pair 10th-placed Anthony Quayle and 14th-placed Brad Kennedy, American Todd Baek (23rd), South Korea's Sanghee Lee (28th) and South Africa's Jbe Kruger (29th).
All eyes will surely be on Keita Nakajima as he defends his title in his first appearance as a professional.
The former world number one amateur joined the play-for-pay for ranks after creating history as the two-time winner of the prestigious Mark H. McCormack Medal (given to top-ranked men's amateur golfer).
Nakajima has held the number one ranking for a record 83 weeks.
Nakajima was crowned the Panasonic Open winner after beating Ryutaro Nagano with a par at the first playoff hole.
The feat made him the only fifth amateur to win on Tour.