Brilliant Lee Wins Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship
Lee Chang-woo held his nerve superbly to win the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) by three shots at Nanshan International Golf Club in Shandong province, China, on Sunday.
The Korean, who finished second alongside Rory McIlroy at last week's Korea Open, fired a closing 70 for a 3-under-par total that earned him an invitation to next year's Masters Tournament. He also secured a place in International Final Qualifying for The Open along with runner-up Shohei Hasegawa of Japan, who shot a 71.
Hasegawa's compatriot Kenta Konishi (70) finished strongly to claim solo third place at 1-over.
After posting earlier rounds of 70, 72 and 69, Lee started the final day with a slender one-shot advantage over 16-year-old Dou Zecheng, who was looking to become the second Chinese player to win the championship after Guan Tianlang's victory in Bangkok 12 months ago. After briefly drawing level with Lee at the second, a hole that Lee bogeyed, the bucket hat-wearing Dou (75) found birdies hard to come by as he struggled on the Garden Course's quick greens. He would finish in a tie for fourth with Australia's Lucas Herbert (68) and Lee Soo-min (70), also of Korea, six shots back.
Lee, 19, became the second Korean to win the championship after Han Chang-won claimed the inaugural event in 2009 at Mission Hills Golf Club in southern China.
He mixed two birdies and two bogeys over the front nine to turn in level-par 36. He pulled away from his challengers with a superb display of ball-striking that produced birdies at the 12th and 15th. A three-putt bogey at the last failed to take the shine off a dominant performance.
"Playing in the Masters has been my dream since I started playing golf," said the Seoul-born Lee, who won the Dongbu Promi Open on the professional Korean Tour last month. "I didn't think I would have an opportunity [to ever do so], so this is a great honor, as is playing in International Final Qualifying for The Open. I have never been so excited."
Although Lee played like a seasoned pro down the final stretch, he did admit to not being able to shed his nerves until his tee shot at the par-3 17th, which he struck to the heart of the green.
"I have been looking at the leader board since the third round and I was a bit nervous," said Lee, who is likely to climb up the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) from his current position of 31 when the Ranking is updated on Wednesday. "I just tried to keep calm and it seemed to work. I knew I was going to win after the tee shot on the 17th hole.