12th July 2018 | Sunshine Tour
Norris thrives in Japan
Many would have questioned Shaun Norris about his decision to add the Japan Golf Tour to his schedule when he did, but so successful has been his journey there that none dare question his logic now.
While he managed to claim victory in his maiden season on the Japan Golf Tour in 2016 – the LeoPalace21 Myanmar Open – Norris was unable to climb beyond the 43rd spot on that Tour’s Order of Merit after 21 tournaments.
Having acclimatised and familiarised himself with some of the golf courses played over his first season there, Norris went on to make the following season one to remember. Similarly to his rookie season, the two-time Sunshine Tour winner bagged a single victory, the JGT Championship Mori Building Cup at Shishido Hills.
Unlike the previous season, however, in 2017, Norris made enough money to propel himself to seventh on the Order of Merit after 21 events, the same number of tournaments he played the season prior. That successful campaign was capped off with a ticket to The Open Championship at Carnoustie Golf Links following his third-place finish at the Joburg Open.
After eight tournaments so far, Norris sits 13th on the Japan Golf Tour Order of Merit, and while a win this season has eluded him up to now, he boasts a runner-up finish he picked up at the SMBC Singapore Open, two top-five finishes and one missed cut.
And then, last week at the Shigeo Nagashima Invitational SEGA SAMMY Cup, Norris once again showed he is not in Japan only to learn the culture and enjoy Japanese cuisine. He showed his hunger to succeed and played himself to a share of third in the 54-hole event held at The North Country Golf Club.
Those results catapulted him to where he currently sits on the Order of Merit and with the season still in its infancy, there promises to be more to come from Norris but currently, there are more pressing matters.
Next is The Open. His debut in 2017 was achieved on the same Japan Golf Tour. A week after just missing out on Royal Birkdale at the Gate Way to The Open Mizuno Open – four spots were on offer and he tied for sixth – he won the JGT Tour Championship, a closing 64 lifting him to second on the money list on the very day that the top two received Open exemptions.
Following his impressive showing at the Joburg Open which young Indian sensation Shubankar Sharma calmly won, and Norris shared third with Tapio Pulkannen of Finland, he will now have a second bite at the cherry that is The Open.
One thing is certain, however, and that is that Norris’ decision to ply his trade in Asia was a masterstroke, even for the biggest sceptic.