A field of mainly local Japanese players will take part in an event which was first played in 1969 and features some of the best Australian players in the land of the rising sun on the honor roll, as well as big winners Hideki Matsuyama and Todd Hamilton.

One of the Japan Golf Association’s four national championships, 2022 sees the tournament rebranded as the Asia Pacific Open Golf Championship Diamond Cup, which will be the eighth moniker for the event which returned to the calendar in 2021 after being canceled due to COVID in 2020.

DEFENDING CHAMPION: In 2021 Rikuya Hoshino picked up his fifth win on the Japanese circuit, beating Philippines’ Juvic Pagunsan by four strokes.

Hoshino reached 13 under par in four rounds, a score close to the average winning score, his Friday 65 the lowest tied round of the week last year.

TO THE RIGHT: Rikuya Hoshino returns to defend his 2021 title in sparkling form on the Japan Golf Tour. PHOTO: Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images.

CLASSES: Oarai Golf Club is somewhat unique in the Japanese golf landscape. Located northeast of Tokyo, Oarai is one of the most seaside courses in the country and is among the best courses in all of Japan.

Winds from the Pacific Ocean play an important role in navigating the layout, although the par-72 is densely lined with black pines.

Designed by legendary architect Seiichi Inoue, Oarai will measure 6,804 meters this week.

PRIZE CASH: 100,000,000 JPY

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Beyond the fact that he is the title holder, Rikuya Hoshino is in great shape lately and has reached a career-high No. 67 in the world rankings in recent weeks.

Tied for seventh in his last start at The Crowns, Hoshino hasn’t missed the top 10 in his last four events, a run that included back-to-back second-place finishes, suggesting victory is soon on the cards.

evergreen foliage Brad Kennedy hopes to join Thomson, Jones and Marsh as the Australian winner of this event, and his recent form suggests that’s not out of the question.

The Queenslander played six events on the Aussie Tour over the summer, never finishing below 25andKennedy mixing in good finishes at the Saudi international and since returning to Japan.

An exceptional putter, Kennedy is an eight-time winner around the world and will never be dismissed.

World No. 1 amateur Keita Nakajima will be aiming for a second professional victory after winning it at the Masters last month. PHOTO: David Canon/Getty Images.

The world’s No. 1 amateur, Keita Nakajima made another pro debut this week and deserves to be watched not just as a potential star of the future, but as a true title contender.

Nakajima has previously won the Japan Golf Tour and was T7 in his last pro start at The Crowns. A high-quality ball striker, the seaside location and likely winds should suit the soon-to-be 22-year-old.

Since his victory at the start of the year at Rosebud, Todd Sinott continues to show signs that his best golf is on the way back from injuries and COVID has robbed the Victorian of some of his best years.

Sinnott was on the 11and last on the Asian circuit, his power is an asset wherever he plays, as is his underrated short game.

RECORD 72 HOLES: 266 (Brandt Jobe1995)

PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: Brian Jones (1988, 1987, 1985), Graham Marsh (1982, 1974, 1972), Peter Thomson (1971)

AUSTRALIANS ON THE GROUND: Brad Kennedy, Todd Sinnott, Jake Higginbottom and Brendan Jones.

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