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Tommy Nakajima Profile

 

Tommy Nakajima was a top golfer on the Japan Tour for decades, but also earned notoriety for a couple of mishaps at the British Open and The Masters.

Full name: Tsuneyuki Nakajima

Date and place of birth: October 20, 1954, in Gunma Prefecture, Japan

Significant Wins
Tommy Nakajima never won on a major world golf tour outside of the Japan Tour - but he won 48 times there, third-most in that tour's history.

He later added wins on the Japan Senior Tour.

In the Majors
Nakajima's best finish in one of the four professional majors is a tie for third place at the 1988 PGA Championship. He had six Top 10 finishes in majors total.

Notable Notes: Tommy Nakajima is best-known (outside of Japan, anyway) for a pair of bad things that happened to him in major championships, both in 1978.

Most famously, there was his struggle to extricate his golf ball from the "Road Hole" bunker on the 17th hole of The Old Course at St. Andrews. Nakajima was on the leaderboard in the third round, but putted his ball off the 17th green and into the Road Hole bunker. He then took four strokes to get the ball out of the bunker. That ended his chances in the 1978 British Open, and it bestowed a new nickname on that bunker: The Sands of Nakajima.

Earlier in 1978, at The Masters, Nakajima set a record (since matched) for highest single-hole score in the Masters when he made a 13 on the par-5 No. 13. Nakajima hit into Rae's Creek, tried to play the ball out of the water, incurred a couple penalties and chipped over the green. Rough year!

But make no mistake: Nakajima was a fine golfer, one of the best of all-time on the Japan Tour. His 48 Japan Tour wins are third-most behind Jumob Ozaki and Isao Aoki.

Nakajima's best year was 1983, when he posted eight wins. He won six times each in 1986-86. His first win on the Japan Tour was in 1976, and his last in 2006. He was the tour's leading money winner four times. In 1986-87, Nakajima spent 85 weeks ranked inside the Top 10 in the official world golf rankings.

 

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