Emerging Australian golf talent agency Searoo Sports has announced itself as a management company to watch, having secured a sponsor’s invitation for rising Japan Tour star Naoki Sekito to contest the Zozo Championship alongside a field headlined by defending champion Tiger Woods in Los Angeles this week.
Led by former NRL star Braith Anasta, the Searoo Sports firm helped world No.319 Sekito punch his ticket to play in the elite $US8 million Zozo Championship – which was relocated from Sekito’s native Japan to the US due to COVID-19.
The 78-player Zozo, which Woods won last year in Tokyo for his record-equalling 83rd US PGA Tour victory, begins Friday AEDT at renowned LA course, Sherwood CC.
It is 23-year-old Sekito’s US PGA Tour debut and the first sponsor’s invitation to an event on the lucrative American circuit that Searoo Sports has secured on behalf of a client.
Searoo’s golf stable also includes Australian tour professionals Anthony Quayle, Dimi Papadatos and Ben Eccles, as well as New Zealand’s Ben Campbell, Malaysia’s Ben Leong and American Trevor Simsby.
“With Naoki, I can recognise that steely focus and determination and I feel he has the right temperament to play alongside the world’s best at the Zozo Championship,” Anasta told Australian Golf Digest.
“It’s extremely gratifying for Searoo that a client of ours has secured a US PGA Tour sponsor’s invitation.”
Justin Caines, Anasta’s co-founder at Searoo Sports, added: “Naoki is a special talent and this invitation is a fantastic reward for his hard work over the past 24 months,” Caines said of Sekito’s three top-10 results from his past seven starts across several Asian tours this year.
“It’s an important milestone for our business; our model is focussed on identifying and nurturing these young stars and helping them to realise their potential, and we are seeing that with Naoki.
“Yukari Nezu, who heads our Japanese operations, played a major part in securing the invite for Naoki to Zozo Championship.”
On Tuesday at Sherwood CC, 2019 Asian Development Tour order of merit winner Sekito played a practice round with US PGA Championship winner and world No.4, Collin Morikawa.
As for 15-time major winner Woods, Sekito is yet to meet him but hopes for a chance run-in with the reigning Masters champion.
“I’m really looking forward to playing alongside Tiger at a US PGA Tour event and maybe bumping into him on the range or in the clubhouse,” Sekito joked.
“When it was announced there was going to be a US PGA Tour event in Japan, it was a goal of mine to play in the event before the contract ended and I am thankful the sponsors have allowed for this to happen so soon in my career.”