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Meet the three players who earned US PGA Championship exemptions through the Asian Swing

Meet the three players who earned US PGA Championship exemptions through the Asian Swing

Among a host of incentives on the line at the Volvo China Open, one reward in particular was a source of great motivation: exemption into the field for the US PGA Championship.

Blank 3 Grids Collage (1)
From left to right: Keita Nakajima, Sebastian Söderberg and Adrian Otaegui

Following the conclusion of the fourth counting event on the Asian Swing, three players were left rejoicing in the knowledge they will be teeing it up at the second men's Major Championship of the season next week at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky.

As part of an exemption category set by the PGA of America, the top three players on the final Asian Swing Rankings earned exemptions into the US PGA Championship.

Sebastian Söderberg finished atop the Asian Swing standings as the Swede recorded two runner-up finishes in his four appearances across the third Global Swing in the first phase of the 2024 Race to Dubai schedule. He was followed by Keita Nakajima, who won his maiden DP World Tour title at the Hero Indian Open, and Adrian Otaegui who had double the reason to celebrate after his victory over the weekend at the Volvo China Open as he vaulted into the top three.

Here's a look at the three DP World Tour players who earned exemption into the US PGA Championship via the Asian Swing.

Sebastian Söderberg

  • Age: 33
  • Official World Golf Ranking: 93
  • DP World Tour wins: 1 (2019 Omega European Masters)
  • 2024 Race to Dubai Ranking: 4
  • Best result at a Major Championship: T53 at the 2022 U.S. Open

Söderberg has enjoyed a stellar season so far on the DP World Tour. Even before his performances on the Asian Swing, the Swede had impressed earlier in the campaign with top-10 results in both the Opening Swing and the International Swing. But it was unquestionably during the Asian Swing that he hit his straps and proved the consistent force among the DP World Tour membership. After finishing just outside the top 20 at the Porsche Singapore Classic, he narrowly missed out on lifting silverware at each of the subsequent three events. After finishing second to Nakajima at the Hero Indian Open, he lost out again to another rising star from Japan as Yuto Katsuragawa won the ISPS HANDA - CHAMPIONSHIP. He then held the lead heading into the final round of the weather-affected Volvo China Open but he was unable to close out a wire-to-wire victory as an errant tee shot on the final hole led to a closing double bogey and him slipping from a share of the lead into a tie for third. Despite that inevitable disappointment, he was able to console him in the knowledge he will make his US PGA Championship debut next week. It will be his third Major Championship appearance, having made his first at the U.S. Open in 2016 when he was playing on the European Challenge Tour. In between then and now, he won his one and only DP World Tour title at the Omega European Masters in 2019 on his return to the DP World Tour after one season away back on the Challenge Tour, overcoming Rory McIlroy, Kalle Samooja, Lorenzo Gagli and Andres Romero in a five-way play-off.

Sebastian Söderberg
Sebastian Söderberg is yet to miss the cut on the DP World Tour this season, finishing no worse than a tie for 55th

Keita Nakajima

  • Age: 23
  • Official World Golf Ranking: 76
  • DP World Tour wins: 1 (2024 Hero Indian Open)
  • 2024 Race to Dubai Ranking: 16
  • Best result at a Major Championship: MC

The Japanese has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the paid ranks having spent 87 weeks at the top of the World Amateur Golf Ranking between 2020 and 2022. He won three titles in 2023 to top the Rankings on the Japan Golf Tour Organisation to make his way to the DP World Tour last year. He sealed his first victory in just his 11th start on the DP World Tour when he completed an impressive wire-to-wire victory at the Hero Indian Open in March to become the fifth Japanese winner in DP World Tour history. He promptly finished just outside the top on home soil at the ISPS HANDA - CHAMPIONSHIP as compatriot Katsuragawa became the latest player from Japan to win on the DP World Tour during his nation's ongoing purple patch. Prior to his win in India, he finished in a tie for fourth at the Ras Al Khaimah Championship on his first start of the campaign. The 23-year-old has already voiced his desire to emulate countryman Ryo Hisatsune in obtaining Dual Membership via the Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex, with the top 10 players who are not already exempt on the PGA TOUR earning TOUR cards for next year. The US PGA Championship will be the fifth Major Championship appearance of his career and first stateside, having only made his first start in a Major as a professional at The Open last summer. Currently in line to represent Japan at his first Olympic Games in France this summer.

Keita Nakajima
Keita Nakajima is one of seven first-time winners on the DP World Tour so far this season

Adrian Otaegui

  • Age: 31
  • Official World Golf Ranking: 110
  • DP World Tour wins: 5 (2017 Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play, 2018 Belgian Knockout, 2020 Scottish Championship, 2022 Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters, 2024 Volvo China Open)
  • 2024 Race to Dubai Ranking: 13
  • Best result at a Major Championship: T55 at the 2023 Open Championship

With his victory in China, Otaegui jumped 46 places from 59th to 13th in the Race to Dubai Rankings. More importantly for the time being, he climbed from 38th to third in the Asian Swing standings to secure his spot at the US PGA Championship. The Spaniard, an established figure on the DP World Tour, missed the cut at the Porsche Singapore Classic - the opening event of the Swing - but then went on to record back-to-back top-30 finishes in India and Japan before claiming his fifth DP World Tour title with a final-day comeback in China. With the win he also climbed to 110th on the Official World Golf Ranking, up from 143rd. Previously also a winner on the DP World Tour in Scotland, Belgium and in his homeland Spain, Otaegui recently made his 300th DP World Tour appearance during the Asian Swing. So far this season, the 2008 Junior Ryder Cup player has made the cut in eight of his 12 appearances. A fourth career start at the US PGA Championship awaits for the Spaniard, with his best result a tie for 65th on debut in 2018.

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