Dunlop Phoenix Tournament 2023

Galaxy of stars set to light up Dunlop Phoenix Tournament

Galaxy of stars set to light up Dunlop Phoenix Tournament

Some of the notable golf stars spearheaded by five-time major champion Brooks Koepka, is set to add excitement to this week's JGTO action.

The Dunlop Phoenix Tournament takes center stage at the Phoenix Country Club in Miyazaki, beginning this Thursday.

The 33-year-old American is the one to watch, eyeing his third title in the tournament after consecutive triumphs in 2016 and 2017.

He can anticipate a strong challenge from the star-studded 87-man field, which includes PGA Tour trio Hideki Matsuyama, Wyndham Clark, and Sahith Theegala.

Together, these four players boast a combined total of 20 PGA Tour titles.

It will be intriguing to see how the local stars, led by the defending champion and reigning JGTO No. 1 Kazuki Higa, stack up against them.

The Dunlop Phoenix Tournament has consistently attracted some of the biggest names in the sport.

Legends such as Tiger Woods, Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Seve Ballesteros, and Padraig Harrington have graced the event and left their mark on the winner's trophy.

For Matsuyama, this marks his first JGTO start in four years.

Matsuyama had previously participated in the Dunlop Phoenix Tournament eight times between 2011 and 2019, securing a top-10 finish on six occasions.

As the tournament celebrates its 50th edition, Matsuyama is eager to reclaim the title he last won in 2014, adding to his eight victories in his JGTO career.

"Reflecting on the history so far, incredible players have competed and triumphed. I aim to etch my name there once more. I've been using (Dunlop) clubs since my amateur days, and I consider this a memorable year for the sponsors. In the spirit of repaying the gratitude I feel, I want to give my best," expressed Matsuyama with enthusiasm.

"This also marks my first participation in the domestic tour in four years and the first since winning The Masters in 2021.

"I believe that with solid play, I can be among the top performers. I'm preparing for that and hope to have a fulfilling experience on Sunday."

Higa, who has been competing mainly in Europe this year but found little success, is hoping to make his mark domestically with three events remaining on the schedule.

Miyazaki holds a special place in Higa's heart as this is where he secured an impressive fourth victory last season, sealing his title as last year's Money Rankings winner.

"Every year, incredible invitees come, but this year, especially with major champions gathering, it will be an event that attracts attention not only in Japan but also internationally," said Higa.

"With Matsuyama-san present, I want to make sure I don't fall behind in such a competitive field."

On the local front, the pulsating race for the JGTO Prize Money king title is set to intensify.


While it currently appears to be a two-horse race between the first-ranked Keita Nakajima (¥132,886,179) and second-ranked Takumi Kanaya (¥121,528,999), Shugo Imahira has put himself back into contention following last week's victory at the Mitsui Sumitomo Taiheiyo Masters, propelling him to the third spot with ¥98,405,906.

With a potential maximum earnings of ¥120,000,000 at stake in the season remainder, Nakajima certainly can't take it easy just yet.

Even Song Young-han (¥85,000,573) in fourth place along with fifth-placed Taiga Semikawa (¥80,979,749) are still mathematically possible of topping the season-long rankings.