PGA Tour Inc.

10/17/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 10/16/2021 07:21

A look at Japan's PGA TOUR history

Editor's Note: This article was originally published October 22, 2019 to celebrate the inaugural ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP, the PGA TOUR's first official event in Japan. Since then Hideki Matsuyama made history at Augusta National Golf Club becoming the first player from Japan to win a men's major championship.

This week marks the first time an official PGA TOUR event will be played in Japan with the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP, but this very proud nation has a great history in golf and has long been a very important part of the TOUR fabric.

While in modern times Hideki Matsuyama - a five time PGA TOUR winner - has laid claim to possibly being the greatest ever player from Japan, his path to the TOUR was blazed decades prior to his emergence.

It was way back in 1929 that the first Japanese players found their way into a TOUR event. The Hawaiian Open that year - which was won by Craig Wood - had Tomekichi "Tommy" Miyamoto (T13), Haruo "Jack" Yasuda (T17) and Kanekichi Nakamura (T22) in the field.

In May 1935, at the invitation of Walter Hagen, six Japanese golfers -- Miyamoto, Yasuda and Nakamura, plus Toichiro "Torchy" Toda, Seiha "Chick" Chin and Rokuzo Asami -- traveled to Michigan for an exhibition against TOUR players Mortie Dutra, Al Watrous, Clarence Gamber, Jake Fassezke, Joe Belfore and Hagen.

A week later at the 1935 U.S. Open outside Pittsburgh, all six became the first players from Japan to appear in a PGA TOUR tournament in the United States (Hawaii was not yet a state but a territory in 1929). Nakamura was the only player to make the cut. He tied for 58th at Oakmont Country Club.

Continuing on their trek the six players traveled to South Bend, Indiana, for the Western Open (now known as the BMW Championship and part of the FedExCup Playoffs). All but Asami made the cut, with the best finish coming from Nakamura (15th).