Many of the world’s leading amateurs have gathered in Korea this week to compete in the eighth staging of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC).
With places in the Masters Tournament and The Open Qualifying Series for The 146th Open at Royal Birkdale at stake, there is a huge incentive for the 120-strong field at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Songdo, Incheon.
The Jack Nicklaus Golf Club is the venue for this week’s Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.
Among those expected to contend for the championship will be Australians Curtis Luck, Cameron Davis and Harrison Endycott, who triumphed in fine style at the World Amateur Team Championships in Mexico last month to claim the Eisenhower Trophy with a 19-shot victory.
Luck is the US Amateur champion and is currently number three in the World Amateur Golf Ranking while Davis was joint runner-up in last year’s AAC.
The 2015 champion Jin Cheng will set out to defend his title and will be joined in a strong Chinese contingent by the 2012 champion Guan Tianlang, who will make his fifth appearance in the event at the age of 17.
The host nation Korea has already enjoyed success in the event with Han Chang-won winning the inaugural event at Mission Hills in China and Lee Chang-woo lifting the trophy in 2013 when the event returned to China at Nanshan.
This year Korea will have nine players competing and the likes of Lee Won-jun (ranked 88th), former US Amateur champion Gunn Yang and Yun Sung-ho will be joined by other rising stars such as Ha Jinbo, Ryu Je-chang, Jang Seung-bo and Kim Tae-ho.
The AAC is organised by the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC), the Masters Tournament and The R&A, and has already made substantial progress in supporting elite amateur golf in the region.
Two-time champion Hideki Matsuyama, for instance, has won twice on the PGA Tour and is now ranked in the top 20 of the Official World Golf Ranking.
Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said: “The Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship has made huge strides in a short space of time in terms of identifying talented young Asian players and giving them a platform to compete at the top level of the sport.
“It is a key part of our efforts to support golf throughout Asia and we are extremely grateful for the hard work and commitment of our partners, the Masters Tournament and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, in making it such a success.”
This is the first time the AAC has been staged in Korea. The event has historically moved throughout the region and has now been held in China (2009, 2013), Japan (2010), Singapore (2011), Thailand (2012), Australia (2014) and Hong Kong (2015).
The winner of the event receives an invitation to play in the Masters Tournament of the following year, at Augusta National Golf Club. The winner and the runner(s)-up will all earn a place in The Open Qualifying Series for The 146th Open, held at Royal Birkdale.