Asia-Pacific tournament continues to grow

First it was the US Masters. Now it’s The Open Championship.
The status of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship continues to grow.
One of the main prizes for the winner of the Asia-Pacific was direct entry to the US Masters.
A secondary prize had been exemption to the final qualifying stage of The Open Championship.
But the Asia-Pacific was elevated another notch last month when it was announced that the winner would gain automatic entry to The Open — no need to go through any qualifying play.
This year’s Asia-Pacific is being held in New Zealand for the first time. It will be staged by the Royal Wellington Golf Club from October 26-29.
That means the winner at Royal Wellington will get to play in the US Masters and The Open of 2018. Because New Zealand is the tournament host it will be allowed up to 10 representative as opposed to the maximum of six for other counties.
New Zealand Golf chief executive Dean Murphy was delighted to hear the news that will give the Asia-Pacific tournament a tremendous boost.
“This is wonderful news and I’m sure all young New Zealand amateur players are today feeling inspired and motivated,” said Murphy.
“The Open is a truly iconic sporting event contested through history by the game’s greatest players so it is a great honour that the Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion will now take their place in this field in addition to the field at the Masters.
“This demonstrates the real significance of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship and the opportunities on offer for the players who will compete at Royal Wellington later this year.”
Murphy’s comments were echoed by Royal Wellington club captain Andrew Harcourt.
“Royal Wellington Golf Club warmly welcomes the announcement that the winner of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, scheduled to be held at Heretaunga this year, will now gain direct entry into 2018 The Open Championship,” Harcourt said.
“This is very exciting news, and reflects the status of this new golf tournament as one of the premier men’s amateur events in the world.”
Harcourt also mentioned that preparations for this year’s event are proceeding well, and a further planning visit by a team from The Masters was to take place this month.
“The members and staff of Royal Wellington, and New Zealand Golf, very much look forward to welcoming the participants, organisers, and sponsors of this event to Wellington later this year, and are certain this news will lift interest in the event. It is great news for supporters of amateur golf everywhere”.
The Asia-Pacific was first held in 2009. It was initially set to grow and develop golf in the Asia-Pacific region but the championship has now evolved to feature 120 of the region’s leading amateur golfers from 40 Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation affiliated organisations each year.
Notable winners of the Asia-Pacific include 2010 and 2011 champion Hideki Matsuyama, who has since won several times on the PGA Tour including the 2016 WGC-HSBC Champions tournament.
Last year’s Asia-Pacific winner Curtis Luck, from Western Australia, had earlier won the US Amateur.
Dominic Wall, director of Asia-Pacific at The R&A, added: “The R&A is committed to developing and enhancing the status of amateur golf throughout Asia-Pacific.
“The exemption for the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship will provide a fantastic opportunity for talented amateur golfers from this part of the world to qualify for The Open.”
This year’s Asia-Pacific will be televised to more than 150 countries.