One of the most important amateur tournaments in the world, the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, is about to take place. It is being played at the beautiful Royal Wellington Golf Club in New Zealand. Rob Smith looks ahead…

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Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship – Preview

The Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship has grown steadily since its inception in 2009 into possibly the most prestigious and rewarding such tournament in the world. Run by The R&A in conjunction with The Masters and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, the winner of the trophy will also earn far more. He will receive an invitation to the 2018 Masters at Augusta in April, and an exemption into the Open Championship which will be played in July at Carnoustie.

The Claret Jug alongside the Asia-Pacific Championship and Masters Trophies

There should be no doubt about the magnitude of this tournament. In both 2010 and 2011, it was won by a young Hideki Matsuyama, currently world number 4 and one of the golfers of the last 12 months.

Hideki Matsuyama in 2010

The field contains 120 of the world’s best amateur golfers representing the 41 member organisations of the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation. The leading two from each in the Amateur World Rankings receive an invitation, and the remainder of the field is effectively made up of the next best golfers from the region and a few extra slots for the host nation.

This year, it is being contested over the quite beautiful Heretaunga Course at Royal Wellington in New Zealand, and the event is being televised in 160 countries.

The stunning Heretaunga Course at Royal Wellington

The strength of the host nation’s golfers as well as those travelling from Australia and China indicate that the winner may well come from one of these three countries. The Chinese contingent includes former champion Guan Tian Lang, the youngest golfer ever to compete in The Masters in 2013, and Ye Wo Cheng, who took Guan’s place as the youngest golfer ever to compete on the European Tour.

The Chinese golfers competing here this week have very strong credentials

There is an excellent preview video on the AAC website which shows both the lovely course and a great deal more about the event which runs from Thursday to Sunday. There will be a cut made after the second round for the leading 60 and ties.

Over the next few days, there is sure to be some scintillating golf from this cosmopolitan field made up of the stars of tomorrow. It’s currently very windy here in Wellington but hopefully this will ease a little when the competition begins in earnest on Thursday morning. On Sunday, the new champion will be crowned and he will be able to look forward to the mouth-watering prospect of playing in the Masters at Augusta and The Open Championship at Carnoustie.