AAC FINISHES IN STYLE
The Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship was created in February 2009 as a joint initiative to develop the game by the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, the Masters Tournament and The R&A. An invitation to play in the Masters Tournament and The Open is given to the winner, while the runner(s)-up gain a place in The Open Qualifying Series for The Open.
The 120-player field is annually comprised of the top male amateurs in the Asia-Pacific region representing the 41 Asia Pacific Golf Confederation member organisations. A Korean, Han Chang, triumphed at the inaugural event in China in 2009, before Hideki Matsuyama won in his native Japan in 2010 and successfully defended his title in Singapore the following year.
At 14 years old, Guan Tianlang of China won the fourth edition of the event in 2012, while Lee Chang-woo from South Korea claimed the title the next year in China.
Australian Antonio Murdaca became the next champion in 2014 at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club. In 2015, Chinese No. 1-ranked amateur golfer Jin Cheng fired a course-record eight-under 62 en route to winning the AAC at The Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club in Hong Kong. The 2016 champion was Australian Curtis Luck, who triumphed with a bogey-free 67 and a one-stroke victory after starting the final round seven strokes behind the lead.
Each country accredited to the AAC receives two - six places in the field, determined by World Amateur Golf Rankings. Of course there are strict protocols in place to ensure the best take their places. The most stringent of course is that they are all Amateurs.
The exception to the invitations rule is that for the host country. They get TEN slots and this rule allowed a very rare opportunity for our top male golfers to compete for the ultimate rewards.
It was hoped that this year at Royal Wellington in the last week of October would break the stranglehold that Asia has had on this event. History though showed that it would be unlikely!
The New Zealanders to play were (WAGR at time of selection); Nick Voke (61), Ryan Chisnall (75), Daniel Hillier (93), Luke Brown (221), Denzel Ieremia (315), Mark Hutson (390), James Anstiss (405), Kerry Mountcastle(418), Henry Spring (520), Charlie Hillier (536)
A lot of pre event discussion was on the form of Nick Voke, fresh off a good run in the USA so there was a lot of hope there.