The Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship starts in Thailand

MatsuyamaSome of the world’s leading amateur golfers will be competing in the fourth Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Chonburi, Thailand this week.

Hideki Matsuyama will be bidding for his third consecutive victory in the championship but will face stiff competition from a strong field including the likes of his compatriot and reigning Japan Junior champion Kenta Konishi, Pan Cheng-tsung, of Chinese Taipei who is Asia’s second-highest ranked amateur, Cameron Smith from Australia, Khalin Joshi and Senapaa Chikkarangappa from India, and Sri Lanka’s Nadaraja Thangaraja.

The championship, formerly known as the Asian Amateur, runs from today until Sunday at Amata Spring Country Club in Thailand. It will feature up to 120 players from the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation’s (APGC) 36 member associations. Nations are offered between two to six invitations depending on their players’ WAGR ranking, while Thailand can have an additional four players as the host. The Tournament Ambassador is Thai star Thongchai Jaidee.

The annual event is organised by the APGC, the Masters Tournament and The R&A, and offers the winner an invitation to the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. The champion and runner(s)-up earn spots in International Final Qualifying (IFQ) for The Open.

AmataMatsuyama, Asia’s highest ranked player on the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), won the championship in Japan in 2010 and in Singapore last year which earned him invitations to the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club, where, in 2011, he won the Silver Cup as low amateur. The 20 year-old also made the cut in his second appearance in April and finished tied for 54th. Matsuyama competed in International Final Qualifying for The Open at Amata Spring in early March and came close to qualifying for Royal Lytham & St Annes.

“I have won the championship for the past two years and will do my best to win a third time, but I think that all my teammates will also have a good chance of doing well if they play their best,” he said. “I know they will be really impressed by the event and its organisation.” 

Konishi, was the 2010 Junior Open champion at Lundin Links in Scotland and won the individual and team titles at the Asian Junior Team Championship in Malaysia in January. Pan is currently ranked 12th in the WAGR and was a quarter finalist in this year’s US Amateur. He qualified for the US Open last year and will be making his debut in the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship. 

Smith will be hoping to