Asia Pacific Amateur begins in Thailand
BY Bruce Young | World Amateur Tour | 2012 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship | Preview | 31 Oct 2012
The Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship gets underway at the Amata Spring Golf and Country Club outside of Bangkok, a tournament rapidly growing in status and now considered amongst the great amateur events in the world.
In four short years the tournament has developed a reputation for the level of organisation reserved only for significant professional events and perhaps the US Amateur Championship but the huge logistical exercise necessary to bring together 120 players from 36 countries has been well orchestrated by the partnership of the Asia Pacific Golf Federation, the Masters and the R&A.
At stake is not only the title of the Asia Pacific Amateur Champion but the opportunity to play the Masters at Augusta National in early April of 2013. The winner of the event gets an invitation to the Masters and the runner(s)-up direct access to International Final Qualifying for the Open Championship.
The defending champion and in fact the winner in both 2010 and 2011 Hideki Matsuyama headlines the field but there are many other exciting young talents who will give the 20 year old all he can handle and more.
Matsuyama not only won this event in each of the last two years but he also went on to make the cut on debut at the Masters on debut in 2011 where he finished as the leading amateur and earlier this year he again made the cut and finished second to only Patrick Cantlay in the amateur honours.
Matsuyama has had perhaps a disappointing season by his standards, failing to qualify for the match play at the US Amateur and finishing only 26th at the Eisenhower Trophy. He did however finish 7th at the recent Japan Open and as the winner of the prestigious Visa Taiheiyo Masters on the Japan Golf Tour in 2011 he is considered as the most exciting prospect in Japanese golf since the arrival of Ryo Ishikawa.
Chinese Taipei 21 year old Pan Cheng Tsung is the second highest ranked amateur in this field behind Matsuyama. Pan, who was raised in Chinese Taipei until leaving for the US at the age of 15, is though developing into an outstanding talent after several years at the Brandenton Academy in Florida and more recently at the University of Washington.
This year Pan finished second in the stroke-play at the US Open qualifying to Bobby Wyatt and made it to the quarters. Five years ago Pan became the youngest ever player to make it to the quarter finals of the US Amateur at the ripe old age of 15.
This year’s field is an eclectic mix but amongst the favourites is the winner of last week’s West Australian Open Oliver Goss who, like Pan, also made it to the quarter finals at this year’s US Amateur Championship.
Goss defeated another amateur at Royal Perth to win the PGA Tour of Australasia event, the victory coming on top of his win in the West Australian Amateur Championship earlier in the year. Goss is off to the University of Tennessee in January of 2013 and appears set for a great future in the game.
Cameron Smith finished 4th in this event last year and is another who many consider a great chance to win the title this year. Smith finished 13th at the Eisenhower and 4th at the Porter Cup during a series of events he played in the US. He is a former Australian Stroke-play champion but still a teenager and is another great future prospect for Australian golf.
Other Australians in the field include Brett Drewitt, Nathan Holman, James McMillan and Ricky Kato.
New Zealand also has six representatives headed by their New Zealand Amateur and Stroke-play Champion Vaughn McCall. McCall made the cut in a recent Japan Tour event and finished a very creditable 13th at the Eisenhower. McCall also finished 7th in this event last year.
The tournament is played over 36 holes with the cut made on Friday to the leading 60 and ties.
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