A refreshed Brad Kennedy will begin an arduous stretch of tournaments that will carry all the way through to December with his title defence of the Japan Golf Tour’s Shigeo Nagashima Invitational SEGA SAMMY Cup in Hokkaido.

Brad KennedyThe Japan Tour has been on a six-week winter sabbatical but now embarks on 16 tournaments in the space of 16 weeks, leading all the way up to the Golf Nippon Series JT Cup on December 5 and including the PGA TOUR’s inaugural excursion into Japan, the ZOZO Championship on October 24.

The top seven players on the Japan Golf Tour money list through the Bridgestone Open and the top three players in the Bridgestone Open will be eligible for the limited field ZOZO Championship, Brendan Jones the best-placed Aussie at present in eighth spot and Matthew Griffin within reach at 11th.

With three top-20 finishes in seven starts this year Kennedy enters the SEGA SAMMY Cup 32nd on the Order of Merit and with happy memories of his most recent visit to The North Country Club.

In a tournament reduced to 54 holes 12 months ago, Kennedy shot 64 in the third and final round for his third Japan Golf Tour title and first in five years.

The 45-year-old has spent the past six weeks sharpening his game at Sanctuary Cove Golf and Country Club and spending time with his young family and resumes his season at a venue where he has a history of solid performances.

In addition to his win last year, Kennedy has not finished worse than a tie for 33rd having played each year since 2011.

Winner of the opening tournament of the year in Japan, Jones hasn’t contended in the SEGA SAMMY Cup in the past seven hostings but having not played since the first week of June will also be steeled for a strong finish to the year.

Griffin plays his first event since becoming a father for the first time with David Bransdon, Won Joon Lee, Dylan Perry and Anthony Quayle to fly the Australian flag and Michael Hendry representing New Zealand.