As I set about writing my final report, I’m tempted to dig deep in the archives and cut and paste my colleague Fergus Bisset’s closing epistle from last year’s event in Japan.
For in a world where few golfers remain unpaid long enough to even consider an amateur title defence, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama has bucked the trend and retained the Asian Amateur Championship title he won in style on home soil last year.
Decked out snazzily in white top and yellow strides with matching visor and sunshades, he seemed in determined mood from the outset. Indeed within just two holes he’d turned a one-shot overnight deficit into a two-shot advantage as overnight leader Ben Campbell stumbled to double bogey on the 2nd after a fluffed pitch.
Although Campbell made five birdies after that, Matsuyama remained bogey-free and was rarely in trouble, other than on 15 where he drove into the rough and was unable to advance it to the green, while both his playing partners had good birdie chances.
But while Matsuyama showed nerves of steel to get up and down, Campbell and Aussie Cameron Smith were unable to convert, and the spectre of a potentially damaging two-shot swing evaporated almost as soon as it had appeared.
It was left to 17-year-old Korean, Soo-min Lee, to eventually push Matsuyama the hardest, cramming nine birdies into a best-of-the-week 64. But Matsuyama safely parred the last to make it home by one, before showing a rare display of emotion.
And why not, for his successful Asian Amateur Championship title defence also brings him a place at International Final Qualifying for The Open and a return ticket to the Masters, where last year he finished T27th and took the Silver Cup for low amateur.
So what of the future? Well, he’s still committed to remaining amateur at least until finishing college in two years’ time, so looks certain to be around to go for the three-peat at Amata Spring Country Club in Thailand next November.
He’s an interesting player to watch with his deliberate backswing, quick action through the ball, wide putting stance and propensity to take his hand off the club in seeming dismay, while the ball still flies laser-like at the stick – a commentator’s nightmare. But we may just have witnessed the next Japanese golfing superstar.
For now though, it’s goodbye from this year’s Asian Amateur Championship in Singapore.