Shinhan Donghae Open 2023

Nakajima ready to lead Japan’s charge at Shinhan Donghae Open

Nakajima ready to lead Japan’s charge at Shinhan Donghae Open

In-form Keita Nakajima will lead a formidable Japanese contingent as they seek to make amends in South Korea at the tri-sanctioned Shinhan Donghae Open, set to commence at Club 72 in Incheon on Thursday.

The JGTO versus KPGA rivalry is heating up for the second time this season following the inaugural Hana Bank Invitational which was held in Japan in June.

Back at the Chiba Isumi Golf Club, Yang Ji-ho secured bragging rights for the KPGA, narrowly pipping Nakajima to the title by a single shot.

The ₩1,400,000,000 tournament (approx. ¥155,000,000) is also jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour. This year marks only the third time JGTO has been a part of it.

In last year's groundbreaking edition in Japan, Kazuki Higa secured a two-stroke victory at Koma Country Club.

With Higa absent this year due to commitments in Europe, JGTO is pinning its hopes on other stars like Nakajima, Riki Kawamoto, Kensei Hirata, Shugo Imahira, Ryutaro Nagano, and Hiroshi Iwata to step up and deliver.

Nakajima is taking it upon himself to make Japan proud during his inaugural trip to South Korea. He's eager to make up for narrowly missing the title at the Hana Bank Invitational earlier this season.

"This year marks my first time in South Korea, both for competition and as a visitor. I'm truly looking forward to it," he said.

"I consistently made it to the final groups for five consecutive weeks between May and June. On the fourth week, at the Hana Bank Invitational, I fell short to Yang Ji-ho by just one stroke."

"This time, I aim to make a comeback on 'enemy turf'."

Nakajima is determined to maintain his outstanding form. The 23-year-old has already clinched two titles this season and secured six other top-five finishes, including a tied-fourth place last week.

He's keen to reclaim the top spot from Takumi Kanaya, who edged past him with a win at the Fujisankei Classic last week. Notably, Kanaya is taking a hiatus this week.

"Regarding my slip to second place, I'm not overly concerned. I hope to prepare thoroughly, maintain focus, and pursue another victory," Nakajima stated.

Like Nakajima, Kawamoto is experiencing South Korea for the first time.

Still winless this season, the 23-year-old aims to surpass his commendable tied-fifth place from the previous year.

"I'm increasingly keen on securing a win," he asserted.

"My strength lies in my driving distance. I intend to harness that and vie for a triumph."

Also part of the 42-man JGTO contingent this week are international players, including 2019 champion Jbe Kruger, his South African compatriot Shaun Norris, the Australian duo Brad Kennedy and Anthony Quayle, and Justin De Los Santos from the Philippines.