Keita Nakajima, of Japan, has won the Mark H. McCormack Medal as the leading men’s player in the 2021 World Amateur Golf Ranking®/WAGR®. Nakajima follows in the footsteps of fellow countryman Takumi Kanaya, who won the 2020 McCormack Medal, and receives exemptions into The 150th Open at St Andrews and the 122nd U.S. Open Championship at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.
The 21-year-old tasted national success earlier this summer when he won the Japan Amateur Championship by three strokes at Ohtone Country Club, near Tokyo.
Nakajima has also made a series of appearances in Japan Golf Tour Professional events over the last year, finishing runner-up in the 2021 Token Homemate Cup, third in the 2020 Mitsui Sumitomo VISA Taiheiyo Masters and eighth in the 2020 Dunlop Phoenix.
He also recorded top-20 finishes in the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup and Japan Open Championship.
“I am so excited and happy to have won the 2021 Mark H McCormack Medal,” said Nakajima. “Heading into university, my goal was to be the number one player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. I want to give many thanks for the support of my family, university, national team coaches and teammates. Without them, I could not have achieved this. I am also very proud and honored to be awarded the medal following Takumi Kanaya.
“My next goal is to demonstrate my abilities on the world stage with confidence and hopefully follow in the footsteps of my fellow Japanese players including Hideki Matsuyama, Nasa Hataoka, Takumi Kanaya, and [2021 U.S. Women’s Open champion] Yuka Saso.
“Thank you again to everyone who has supported me and to The R&A and USGA for their work in promoting amateur golf around the world. Arigato!”
The R&A and the USGA jointly award the McCormack Medal annually. It is named after Mark H McCormack, who founded sports marketing company IMG and was a great supporter of amateur golf.
Professor Steve Otto, Chief Technology Officer at The R&A, said, “We have seen Keita go from strength-to-strength since finishing runner-up in the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in 2018 and it is fantastic to see another player from Japan winning the McCormack Medal for a second successive year after Takumi Kanaya in 2020.
“To perform at a consistently high level in both amateur and professional events is impressive and demonstrates that he is a deserving winner of the award. We look forward to welcoming him to St Andrews for The 150th Open next year.”
“On behalf of everyone at the USGA, we want to commend Keita on his outstanding performance over the past year,” said John Bodenhamer, USGA senior managing director, championships. “We know the hard work and dedication it takes to reach this level, and Keita has shown that that type of effort pays off. We look forward to watching his career continue to reach new levels.”
The World Amateur Golf Ranking, which is supported by Rolex, was established in 2007 when the men’s ranking was launched. The men’s ranking encompasses nearly 2,900 counting events, ranking 7,309 players from 117 countries. The women’s ranking was launched in 2011 and has a calendar of around 1,900 counting events with more than 3,830 ranked players from 88 countries.