Japanese ace Ryo Ishikawa is set to add more sparkle to the already-strong field when the Asia-Pacific Open Golf Championship Diamond Cup gets underway next week.
Sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour, the Diamond Cup boasts a lucrative prize fund of 150million Yen (approximately US$1.5 million) and will welcome the best players from Japan and the Asian Tour to the Ohtone Country Club from September 25 to 28, 2014.
Ishikawa, who has been rated as one of Japan’s biggest golfing stars, will be eager to repay his faithful fans with another victory at home.
It will be a homecoming of sorts for the Japanese, having spent most of his time playing on the PGA Tour where he managed to earn his card after going through the Web.com Tour Finals.
Nicknamed the ‘Bashful Prince’, the 22-year-old burst onto the scene by winning the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup in Japan as a 15-year-old amateur.
He then went on to become the youngest player in Japan to reach 10 career victories in 2012 and got back onto the winning trail again when he lifted his 11th title by defeating EurAsia Cup hero Koumei Oda in a play-off this year.
Oda and Hideto Tanihara, who played key roles in securing a historic draw with Europe at this year’s EurAsia Cup, will also be in action as they face off against some of their EurAsia Cup teammates who include Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat and India’s Anirban Lahiri.
Korea’s Kim Hyung-sung, also of the EurAsia Cup fame, is another contender at the Diamond Cup.
The Korean finished second on Japan Golf Tour money list last season and has emerged as one of Korea’s rising stars in recent years.
It will be an intriguing matchup between Japan’s best players and the crème de la crème from the Asian Tour where over 35 tournaments winners will feature at the Diamond Cup.
Other Asian Tour stalwarts set to light up at the Japanese showpiece include current Order of Merit leader David Lipsky, who became the first player from the Asian Tour to win the co-sanctioned Omega European Masters which is the only event to be held on European soil.
Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng, an eight-time Asian Tour winner, who has been victorious in Japan on four occasions, will also be highly-rated as one of the favourites to win the Diamond Cup.
The Diamond Cup is one of the oldest tournaments in Japan dating back to 1969. Now known as the Asia-Pacific Open Golf Championship Diamond Cup, the prestigious event has also been elevated to regional Open Championship status following an agreement between the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation and the Japan Golf Association.
The event continues to receive strong backing from Mitsubishi Corporation and Kansai Telecasting Corporation.
The Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup is owned by Mitsubishi Corporations, Kansai Telecasting Corporation, Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation and Japan Golf Association.