Augusta Opportunity Awaits Masterful Murdaca

Antonio Murdaca is looking forward to a trip to Augusta National. Picture by Ian Knight/AAC
Antonio Murdaca is looking forward to a trip to Augusta National. Picture by Ian Knight/AAC

Melbourne, Australia; Unheralded Antonio Murdaca produced a brilliant virtuoso performance to write his name into Asia Pacific Amateur Championship [AAC] history.
Belying his ranking, the 19-year-old swept to a stunning, runaway victory over the Royal Melbourne Golf Club’s Composite Course, leaving the high-class field trailing distantly in his wake.
Murdaca came into this event, his first appearance in an AAC, as the ninth-ranked of the 10 Australians.
But delighting the home galleries he played like a champion throughout to become the first Australian winner of the event.
His reward is a life-changing experience – a place in the starting line-up in next year’s Masters Tournament at Augusta National as well as entry into the Open Championship Qualifying Series.
“It’s been a childhood dream to play at the Masters. I handled my nerves pretty well,” said Murdaca, who closed with a one-under 71 for a four-round total of 13-under 275.
That was seven strokes clear of runner-up Mikimu Horikawa of Japan, this year’s Faldo Series Asia Grand Final winner.
Eight shots clear at the top heading into the final round, Murdaca’s advantage never came under serious threat.
On the first occasion the tournament has been staged outside Asia, Murdaca simply proved too good for his rivals.
Combining a well thought out strategy with solid play from tee-to-green and a silky touch on and around the slick putting surfaces the twice Australian junior champion was a worthy winner.
Australian Todd Sinnott, the first round leader, ended third on 283. Two shots further back in fourth was his 16-year-old compatriot Ryan Ruffels.
In joint fifth on two-under were 2012 champion Guan Tianlang and fellow-Chinese Dou Zecheng, along with Chinese-Taipei’s Pan Cheng-tsung.
Prior to Royal Melbourne, the event had seen five successive winners from Asia – Koreans Han Chang-won [2009] and Lee Chang-woo [2013], Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama [2010 and 2011] and China’s Guan [2012].

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