Proud Payne Hails Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship

Billy Payne leads the applause for Antonio Murdaca at Royal Melbourne. Picture by Dave Tease/AAC
Billy Payne leads the applause for Antonio Murdaca at Royal Melbourne. Picture by Dave Tease/AAC

Melbourne, Australia: Organisers of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship have pronounced the Royal Melbourne showpiece a resounding success.

Augusta National chairman Billy Payne, who joined other Augusta members on the hallowed turf of the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday night for a commemorative photograph with the players, said the club intended bringing the tournament back to Royal Melbourne in the near future.

Payne said 19-year-old Antonio Murdaca, the runaway winner, would be adopted by the membership and the fans at Augusta National Golf Club when he steps out in the field next year, just as previous AAC winners were.

“It makes us feel wonderful,” said Payne. “Quite honestly, I can tell you that when one of these young men come to Augusta and play the Masters every year, the membership and I think the fans immediately have a favourite. I think we are so proud of them, they’re like our children.

“It’s very important to us that they have this wonderful experience. And because they do, a million more watching around the world are going to want to compete in this championship.”

R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson said the AAC was an ‘aspirational’ tournament that hopefully would inspire many young players in the region.

“Our expectations were very high, but they’ve been exceeded,” said Dawson. “Royal Melbourne is one of the finest clubs in the world, and it’s really given these players a test of golf.”

Eleven players in the field broke par over 72 holes, with the lowest round being 67, five-under-par.

Dawson repeated Payne’s earlier comments about the quick growth of the AAC since its inception in 2009.

“This is the sixth edition (of the tournament), and we’ve all been amazed how quickly the event has established itself in the golfing calendar,” he said. “It’s one of the premier amateur events in the world and it’s good that the Masters tournament and ourselves have come together and applied our expertise in staging major championships in putting together a really premier amateur event.”

The AAC, founded by the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation, the R&A and the Masters Tournament, moves to Hong Kong next year at Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club.

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