Merit win snares Masters invite for Imahira

Japan’s Shugo Imahira will arrive for next week’s SMBC Singapore Open feeling very ‘special’ after receiving an invitation to compete in the 2019 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club in April.

Imahira was rewarded for an outstanding 2018 season on the Japan Tour, where he topped the Order of Merit and finished first in a number of other categories, with a highly prized special invite to the year’s first Major.

“Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts established the Masters as a global sporting event, so throughout our history special invitations for deserving international players have always been carefully considered,” said Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament.

“We are pleased to continue this tradition by welcoming Shugo Imahira to our field this year based on his impressive record during the past 12 months. We look forward to hosting him and all of our Masters competitors in April.”

Currently ranked 53rd in the Official World Golf Ranking, the 26-year-old Imahira just missed out on an automatic spot in the Masters after taking the Japan Tour by storm.

In 2018, he collected 14 top-10 finishes including his second career title at the Bridgestone Open, where he birdied the final three holes to win by a stroke. His other win came at the 2017 Kansai Open Golf Championship, winning by six shots.

Imahira, who is playing the PGA Tour’s Sony Open in Hawaii this week, will be up against someone who knows all about the Masters at the SMBC Singapore Open – Spain’s Sergio Garcia, who won at Augusta in 2017.

Garcia will defend his title at the SMBC Singapore Open at Sentosa Golf Club from January 17 to 20 and is part of an elite filed that also includes his Ryder Cup teammate Paul Casey of England, legendary American Davis Love III, the hugely talented Matthew Fitzpatrick and the cream of the Asian and Japan Tours.

Imahira will be out to continue his amazing form in 2018 that saw him top the charts on the Japan Tour in scoring average, putting average and birdie average and come second in the par or better % category.

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