A well-rested Takumi Kanaya will return to action at the ANA Open Golf Tournament in Hokkaido Prefecture this week, aiming to reclaim the top spot in the JGTO money rankings from Keita Nakajima.
The 25-year-old Kanaya's absence from last week's Shinhan Donghae Open in South Korea was capitalised on by Nakajima.
Nakajima finished a commendable joint third, surpassing the ¥100,000,000 mark and taking the top position with season earnings of ¥100,654,179.
With Nakajima's turn to take a break, Kanaya, who trails at ¥95,833,999, knows he has a fine opportunity to swiftly regain his top position with a strong showing at the Sapporo Golf Club's Wattsu Course.
“It has been a good season for me so far and I’m definitely aiming to finish this season strongly. I always strive to do my best in every tournament I compete and this week is no different,” said Kanaya.
However, it won't be an easy task for Kanaya; he needs at least a third-place finish or higher to unseat Nakajima.
The race for the 'prize money king' honour has been transformed by the pair into a two-horse race. Taiga Semikawa, in third place with ¥61,320,527, is a distant third, with a deficit of ¥30,500,000 to make up.
Kanaya is hoping to pick up where he left off after his triumph at the Fujisankei Classic two weeks ago, seeking back-to-back wins and his third of the season.
This will be only Kanaya's second appearance, having marked his debut in 2021 with a tied-16th place finish.
The 120-man field features a formidable group of competitors, with 16 of the current top 20 money leaders participating this week.
Included in the lineup are Semikawa, fourth-placed Ryutaro Nagano, fifth-placed Kensei Hirata, and 18th-placed Tomoharu Otsuki. Otsuki aims to be the first player to successfully defend the ANA Open title since Masashi 'Jumbo' Ozaki achieved this in 1995.
Ozaki holds the record as the most successful player in the tournament's 48-year history, winning seven times: also in 1972, 1973, 1974, 1989, 1992, and 1994.
Other former champions competing this week include Yosuke Asaji, two-time winner Yuta Ikeda, Ryo Ishikawa (also last year's runner-up), Koumei Oda, and Australia's Brendan Jones.
Joining Jones in the international lineup are South Korea's Song Young-han, currently the highest-ranked non-Japanese player on the money list at seventh, 2019 Japan Open winner Shaun Norris, and Jbe Kruger of South Africa and Justin De Los Santos of the Philippines.