AUSTIN, TEXAS – MARCH 26: Takumi Kanaya of Japan plays a shot on the 15th hole in his Round of 16 match against Corey Conners of Canada on the fourth day of the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club on March 26, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Takumi Kanaya is eager to build on the momentum of another top-10 finish on the PGA TOUR after bowing out of the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play on Saturday morning.

The Japanese rising star went down 5 and 3 to Canadian Corey Conners in the Round of 16 at Austin Country Club but held his head high following two earlier wins in the group stage over higher ranked golfers, Tony Finau and Lucas Herbert.

He now heads to the Valero Texas Open next week and will then join compatriots Hideki Matsuyama and current world amateur No. 1 Keita Nakajima at the Masters Tournament, the first major of the year. Matsuyama is the defending Masters champion.

“I had a great time, a great experience in my first WGC event. Getting into the Round of 16 is good for my first time here. Good to have four rounds of experience as it’s different with match play format,” said the 23-year-old.

Kanaya’s gallant run in Austin means he will post a joint ninth result which will be his second top-10 on the PGA TOUR following an equal seventh outing at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP on home soil last October.

He has now amassed 141 FedExCup points in the non-member category and can accept Special Temporary Membership should he equal or surpass the points earned by the 150th placed golfer from last season’s final FedExCup standings, which is 287 points.

“Second top-10 on the PGA TOUR. For sure, the more points I get hopefully I can have more opportunities to play in the future. Just keep building and do my best every week when I have the opportunity to play,” said Kanaya, who is currently ranked 63rd in the world.

Following a highly successful amateur career where he was ranked world amateur No. 1 for 55 weeks and won the 2018 Asia Pacific Amateur Championship, Kanaya has established himself on the Japan Golf Tour with three wins. He harbours dreams of joining his idol, Matsuyama on the PGA TOUR but knows the road to the top is long and windy.

“My strong points need to get stronger and I need to keep hitting it straight and be more consistent,” said Kanaya. “I will not change anything and will aim to keep doing my best in the next two weeks and continue to have fun.”

He is also looking forward to reconnecting with his swing coach Gareth Jones, who arrives in the U.S. from Australia this weekend. Kanaya has not seen Jones, who is the head coach of the Japan national team, in person since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

“He arrives tonight. I have not seen him for a while and we’ll work on some things to get ready for the next few weeks,” said Kanaya.

Following the Round of 16, the quarterfinals match-ups on Saturday afternoon are: Abraham Ancer vs Corey Conners, Will Zalatoris vs Kevin Kisner, Brooks Koepka vs Dustin Johnson and Seamus Power vs Scottie Scheffler.

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