Ten New Zealanders named for a shot at Masters and Open Championship glory.
The ten New Zealand Amateur golfers to play this year's Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship have now been named. It will be the first time the event has been contested in New Zealand.
The host club Royal Wellington Golf Club are looking forward to having the best amateur golfers from the Asia- Pacific region contest for the prestigious title from October 26th - 29th.
The group, headed by Nick Voke, will all have a chance of securing a place at both the 2018 Masters Tournament and 147th Open Championship by becoming the 2017 Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion.
Voke has been in fine form this year, re writing the record books at Iowa State University in the United States. Among his accomplishments are winning the Hawkeye Invitational and the NCAA Austin Regional where he helped Iowa State qualify for the National Championships setting a new scoring record for the University along the way.
Joining Voke will be a strong contingent of U.S based kiwis including Denzel Ieremia, James Anstiss, Henry Spring and Charlie Hillier who will all make the trip back to Wellington in October.
Leading the New Zealand based charge will be Ryan Chisnall and Daniel Hillier. Chisnall and Hillier recently completed campaigns in the U.S, gaining valuable competitive experience, preparing them for the challenges ahead, with both players making the cut at the prestigious Southern Amateur finishing T23 and T15 respectively.
Hillier, who already has an impressive resume in his young career, will have the advantage of local knowledge as he is based in Wellington and is expecting the conditions to be challenging.
"It's usually the windiest time of year for us so it will be interesting to see how that affects the course. It's also not that warm so the ball won't be travelling that far and it can be a bit softer so it will play quite long," Hillier warned.
"The wind swirls around the course so that trips up a few people. One shot could be straight into it; one shot could be straight down. You just have to make sure you know where the wind's coming from when you hit your shot."
Hillier believes all the visitors from around the Asia-Pacific region will enjoy a top-class venue that will be a worthy addition to a star-studded cast of clubs to host the championship.
Rounding out the group, that is selected from the World Amateur Golf Rankings, are New Zealand Stroke Play Champion Mark Hutson, Northland's Luke Brown and Wellington's Kerry Mountcastle.
New Zealand Golf's High Performance Manager Gregg Thorpe is looking forward to the prospect of New Zealand hosting the event and therefore having ten players in the field to vie for the title.
"The last week in October will represent a fantastic opportunity for these ten men. Having the chance to win a major amateur championship in your own back yard, that comes with the chance to play at Augusta National as well as in an Open Championship is about as exciting as it gets!".
"This group have been working hard in anticipation of receiving this invite. We were fortunate to have Greg Turner work with the players prior to last year's New Zealand Amateur at Royal Wellington and we have further preparation planned leading up to the event."
"The New Zealand Amateur at Royal Wellington was well supported by the Royal Wellington members and Wellington golf fans alike, so we hope we get some good local support this year too. It will be a great event for the public to come out and watch because you could be seeing the next Hideki Matsuyama who has won this event twice."
If a kiwi was to win in 2017 it would be the for the first time with the best performances in the past being Peter Spearman Burn and Ben Campbell each finishing 3rd in 2009 and 2011 respectively and Luke Toomey coming close last year, but also eventually ending in third place. Never before has the chance to play Augusta National and at an Open Championship been so close for so many of New Zealand's best young amateurs.
The invited New Zealanders to play for this year's Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, to be played at Royal Wellington Golf Club, Wellington. 26-29 October are (WAGR at time of selection);
Nick Voke (61)
Ryan Chisnall (75)
Daniel Hillier (93)
Luke Brown (221)
Denzel Ieremia (315)
Mark Hutson (390)
James Anstiss (405)
Henry Spring (520)
Charlie Hillier (536)
About the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship
The Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship was created in February 2009 as a joint initiative to develop the game by the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, the Masters Tournament and The R&A. An invitation to play in the Masters Tournament is given to the winner, while both the winner and the runner(s)-up gain a place in The Open Qualifying Series for The Open.
Korean Han Chang-won triumphed at the inaugural event in China in 2009, before Hideki Matsuyama won in his native Japan in 2010 and successfully defended his title in Singapore the following year. At 14 years old, Guan Tianlang of China won the fourth edition of the event in 2012, while Lee Chang-woo from South Korea claimed the title the next year in China. Australian Antonio Murdaca became the next champion in 2014 at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club. In the 2015 AAC at The Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club in Hong Kong, Chinese No. 1-ranked amateur golfer, Jin Cheng fired a course-record 8-under 62 in the first round and followed with solid play to win. Australia's Curtis Luck, then the world's second-ranked amateur, overcame a seven-stroke deficit to secure a one-shot victory over compatriot Brett Coletta at the eighth Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship held at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Korea.
The champion receives the following:
An invitation to compete in the 2018 Masters Tournament.
Direct entry into The Open Championship at Carnoustie in 2018, conducted by The R&A.
The champion and runner(s)-up receive the following:
A place in The Open Qualifying Series with the opportunity to qualify for The Open Championship at Carnoustie in 2018.
See www.aacgolf.com for more information.
The 120-player field is annually comprised of the top male amateurs in the Asia-Pacific region representing the 40 Asia Pacific Golf Confederation member organisations.
Countries include: Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Chinese Taipei, Cook Islands, Fiji, Guam, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Macau, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Oman, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Qatar, Samoa, American Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam.
Royal Wellington Golf Club, Wellington
Royal Wellington was founded in 1895. The course is situated outside New Zealand's capital city on a parkland site adjacent to the Hutt River. The club has hosted seven New Zealand Open Championships since 1912, and in 2004 became the first golf club in the country to receive Royal status. The course recently underwent a complete redesign, which included the creation of 13 new holes and new greens, tees and bunkers. The new routing resulted in a par-72 course measuring 7,219 yards.