Queensland’s Daniel Nisbet has three weeks to earn exemptions into the US PGA Tour’s CIMB Classic and WGC–HSBC Champions event, starting this week at the co-sanctioned Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup Golf in Japan.
Co-sanctioned between the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour, the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup has a long and proud history and will be played for the first time at the Sasai course at Musashi Country Club in north-western Tokyo.
No Australian has won the event since prolific Japan Tour winner Brian Jones claimed the title for the third time in four years in 1988, and there will be a contingent of eight Aussie professionals and three amateurs hoping to end the 30-year wait.
Winner of the Asian Tour co-sanctioned New Zealand Open earlier this year, Nisbet currently sits 17th on the Habitat for Humanity standings. The top 10 after the completion of the Yeangder TPC tournament in Chinese Taipei on October 7 receive exemptions into the CIMB Classic while the top four as of October 15 are exempt into the HSBC Champions, tournaments that carry prizemoney pools of $US7 million and $US10 million, respectively.
Nisbet currently sits $90,000 outside the top 10 and needs to rectify his form in Asia so far this year, a missed cut at last week’s Shinhan Donghae Open in Korea his seventh from eight events in Asia in 2018.
The only other Asian Tour regular joining Nisbet in Japan this week is the in-form Travis Smyth, whose top-10 finish last week saw him jump from 66th to 52nd on the moneylist and earn a special invite.
Now domiciled primarily on the European Tour, Scott Hend returns to Japan by virtue of his Asian Tour Order of Merit win two years ago, while Japan Tour regulars Brendan Jones, Brad Kennedy, Matthew Griffin, Todd Sinnott, Anthony Quayle and Kiwi Michael Hendry will also tee it up.
Griffin was the best-performed Aussie in this event last year when he was tied for seventh while Kennedy was tied for second five years ago. Kennedy currently sits sixth on the Japan Golf Tour moneylist and Jones 16th with the top two as of October 15 also exempt into the HSBC Champions.
The Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup also showcases the best amateur talent in the region with Albury’s Zach Murray, Shae Wools-Cobb from Maroochydore and Kiwi trio Luke Brown, Daniel Hiller and Kerry Mountcastle all pitting their skills against the pros.