South Korea and New Zealand to host AAC in 2016 and 2017
It has been responsible for sending talented amateurs from the Asia-Pacific region to golf's Majors since its first edition in 2009, and the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) will not be letting up.
The winner of the AAC traditionally receives an invitation to the US Masters, and entry into the qualifying series for the British Open, and the Asia-Pacific will continue to be represented at two of the sport's biggest Majors.
Despite rain throwing a dampener on the opening day of its 2015 edition at Hong Kong's Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club yesterday, the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC), the Augusta National Golf Club, host of the Masters and the organisers of the British Open, The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A), gave glowing reviews of the event, announcing the date and venues of the next two editions of the event.
The AAC will go to South Korea for the first time next year, hosted at New Songdo City's Jack Nicklaus Golf Club from Oct 6 to 9. In 2017, New Zealand's Royal Wellington Golf Club will play host from Oct 26 to 29.
"In my wildest dreams, I never would have thought we would have had the success we've had," said APGC chairman, David Cherry, pointing to the strong performances of former AAC champions, Japan's Hideki Matsuyama and Chinese teenager Guan Tianlang, at the 2011 and 2013 editions of the Masters, respectively.
The duo both won the Silver Cup for finishing as the best performing amateurs at the Major.
"So, for places like Cambodia, Mongolia, Nepal and Bhutan, where golf is not a primary sport, there is the possibility of playing in this event with some great players and, with the rewards that we have today, it will help golf in Asia grow.
"I know it's happening, I go around the Asia-Pacific with other people and we can see it," added Cherry.
According to Martin Slumbers, chief executive of the R&A, the AAC provides a prestigious platform for the best in the region.
"This is no normal amateur event. This is as close to a professional golf event as you're going to get before you get to the Major championships," said Slumbers.
And that platform will be further fine-tuned as the AAC continues to push the sport in the region.
"I believe in creating heroes who have won this championship; thereby enticing others and kids to take up the game of golf," said Billy Payne, chairman of the Masters.
"We are quite pleased. We can always do better and we intend to keep doing better."