Matsuyama chases 3rd Asia Pacific title
BY Bruce Young | 14 Aug 2012
BANGKOK – Japanese sensation Hideki Matsuyama, currently the world’s second-ranked amateur, has confirmed he will attempt to win a third successive Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in November. The fourth edition of the event will be held from November 1-4 at Amata Spring Country Club in Thailand.
Matsuyama’s victories in Japan in 2010 and Singapore in 2011 – when the event was known as the Asian Amateur Championship – earned him invitations to the Masters Tournament, where he has shone against the world’s best.
In 2011, he finished 27th in his debut at Augusta National Golf Club to win the Silver Cup as low amateur and he again made the cut in April, finishing 54th.
Matsuyama also made headlines by winning the Taiheiyo Masters on the professional Japan Golf Tour last November.
Last month, he finished joint runner-up in the Japan Golf Tour’s Sun Chlorella Classic after firing five birdies in his last six holes and consequently rose to the top of the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR).
Once again, the Tohoku Fukushi University student will return to defend his title at this year’s Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.
“I’ll definitely attempt to win the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship again as it would also be great to play again in the Masters next year,” said Matsuyama. “I’ve experienced playing at Augusta twice and I truly love the tournament, so my desire to go back grows stronger and stronger.”
Each year, the winner of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship earns an invitation to compete at the Masters, while the champion and runner(s)-up both earn spots in International Final Qualifying (IFQ) – Asia for The Open Championship.
Matsuyama, who beat Korean Lee Soo-min by just one stroke last year, is again likely to face tough competition from players representing leading golf nations including Korea, China, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and India, as well as Japan.
“The first win (in 2010) was much easier as I had nothing to lose,” said Matsuyama, who is competing in the US Amateur this week.
“I can feel the pressure is also getting stronger and that’s the big difference. There are many good players who are all trying to achieve the same goal, to win, so I need to focus on my game plan.”
This year’s field will comprise up to 120 players from 37 member nations of the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC), which organises the annual event in cooperation with the Masters Tournament and The R&A.
Each nation automatically receives two invitations, based on the WAGR as of August 29. The rest of the field is then made up of invitations by ranking, with each country allowed up to a maximum of six players, while Thailand can have up to 10 as the host nation.
The players will face a tough test at Amata Spring, which is located in Chonburi, just over an hour’s drive from central Bangkok.
Lee Westwood won the Thailand Golf Championship last December at the acclaimed venue, which also hosted IFQ – Asia in March and was the former home of the Royal Trophy (Europe v Asia) and the inaugural LPGA Thailand in 2006.
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