Keita Nakajima, the top-ranked amateur in the world, made his debut at The Open Championship last week nine months after his thrilling victory at the 2021 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC).
He began his week at St Andrews competing alongside legends in the Celebration of Champions on Monday. Nakajima teamed up with Women’s Amateur champion Jess Baker, Women’s Open champion Anna Nordqvist and reigning Open champion Collin Morikawa for the exhibition match. After the pre-tournament festivities, Nakajima had a shaky start to his opening round on Thursday. He bogeyed his first three holes, but rebounded with a birdie at the long par-4 fourth. The 22-year-old settled in after his inauspicious start and made the turn at two over par. Nakajima birdied three of his first five holes on the back nine and punctuated his opening round with a birdie at the last to finish his first round at The Open at even-par 72. His opening round left him tied for second among the six amateurs in the field and tied with a number of major champions including Morikawa, Justin Thomas, Matt Fitzpatrick and Adam Scott. On Friday, Nakajima enjoyed a strong start, tallying two birdies on his front nine to reach one under and in position to make the cut. However, a back-nine misstep at the par-4 12th led to a re-tee, a double bogey and an eventual missed cut. While he was unable to play the weekend, Nakajima will always be able to look back and appreciate his experience at the 150th Open Championship at the Home of Golf, St Andrews.