Hong Kong: The best amateur golfers from Hong Kong will be looking to leverage ‘home’ advantage at the seventh edition of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC).
Taking place at Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club from October 1-4, it’s the first time the event has been staged in the Special Administrative Region [SAR].
The AAC is played annually at a different venue throughout Asia-Pacific. Organised by the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation [APGC] in conjunction with the Masters Tournament and The R&A, the champion receives an invitation to the Masters and, along with the runner-up, gains entry to The Open Qualifying Series for The Open Championship.
The six-strong Hong Kong contingent will be spearheaded by Matthew Cheung, who tied for 45th on his AAC debut at Royal Melbourne last year. A student at Oklahoma City University in the United States, the 19-year-old recently collected Academic All-America honours.
Leon Philip D’Souza and Michael Regan Wong, the current standouts on the Hong Kong junior circuit and the top-two ranked players on the Hong Kong Golf Association’s 2015 Junior Order of Merit, will look to carry their good form to Clearwater Bay.
“This is a really exciting opportunity for me,” said D’Souza, a Philippines national. “The best amateurs from around the region will be here. Many have had the chance to play against the top professionals in the world, so this will be a great test for me to see how my game compares with theirs. The grand prize of a spot at the Masters is a real motivation for me, and I hope I can take home advantage and, with the support of local fans, have a chance of winning the title.”
Wong is the defending champion of the Hong Kong Open Amateur Championship and runner-up (to D’Souza) at the Hong Kong Junior Close Championship this year. Like D’Souza, he is also playing in the event for the first time.
“It is always good to compete against the best and the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship definitely has the highest quality field you can assemble from the amateur circuit,” said 18-year-old Wong. “I am really looking forward to it. We are very lucky that the event is taking place in Hong Kong this year, and I am sure my family and friends will come to support me, which I hope will help me perform better.”
The Hong Kong sextet is completed by Shinichi Mizuno, Motin Yeung and Oliver Roberts.
The Nagoya-born, Hong Kong-raised Mizuno was the SAR’s Hong leading finisher at the AAC in 2012 and 2013. The 22-year-old Yeung will join D’Souza and Wong as a first-timer at the event while Roberts returns after narrowly missing the cut last year.
Since its inauguration in 2009, the AAC has produced an impressive list of winners, including two-time champion Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, who has recorded top-20 finishes across all four Majors since turning professional in 2013, and 2012 AAC champion Guan Tianlang, who made headlines in 2013 when he became the youngest player to make the cut at the Masters.
Continuing under its banner of ‘Creating Future Heroes’, the AAC will feature 120 players from the APGC’s 39 member associations and will be played over 72-holes of stroke play, with a cut for the leading 60 players plus ties after 36 holes.