New Zealand are hoping to turn a recent disappointment into motivation as six of their finest attempt to become the first player from their country to win the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship this week.
The 10th edition of the region’s premier amateur golf tournament – organized by the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) in association with Augusta National Golf Club and The R&A – begins at Sentosa Golf Club’s New Tanjong Course from Thursday.
The New Zealand team is led by the red-hot Daniel Hillier, who has had a fantastic summer to rise up to 19th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, and he will have Denzel Ieremia, Luke Brown, Matthew McLean, Charlie Hillier and Kerry Mountcastle by his side.
New Zealand hosted the ninth edition of the tournament in Wellington and their best result so far has been a third place finish for Ben Campbell when the event was played in Singapore last time and later matched by Luke Toomey in 2016 in Incheon, Korea.
Last month, at the World Amateur Team Championship in Dublin, New Zealand came close to winning the title before a disappointing final round saw them slip to fourth place. Daniel, Ieremia and Mountcastle were the team members.
“That was a really cool opportunity for us and our whole team in New Zealand Golf to be able to play in that event. We had a great week, and I think from a week like that, there are only positives to take,” said Ieremia, who is ranked 192nd in the world.
“So, we learned a lot and we are definitely carrying forward those lessons. It was disappointing to not come away with the trophy, but to put ourselves in that position is definitely something to be proud of.”
Hillier will definitely be the man to watch in the tournament.
The 20-year-old, tied sixth last year in his hometown of Wellington, has been in red-hot form coming to Singapore. He was the stroke play medalist at the US Amateurs last month, and then almost guided his team to a victory in the WATC, where he was tied third among individuals with a 17-under par score.
“I am feeling really good. I had a very good summer over in the US. To come away with some good finishes over there leading into this week. I just need to stick to the process and hopefully it will all come together at the right time,” said Hillier, who will have his sister Natalie on the bag this week.
The AAC winner earns an invitation to the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club and a place in The 148th Open at Royal Portrush in 2019, provided he retains his amateur status. The runner(s)-up will gain a spot in The Open Qualifying Series.
The Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, which is now one of the five ‘Elite’ events on the World Amateur Golf Ranking, is supported by six Proud Partners – AT&T, 3M, Mercedes-Benz, Samsung, Delta and UPS – and two Scoring Partners, Rolex and IBM.
The 72-hole stroke play event at Sentosa promises to be a real festival of golf in a special year for the championship, which has been a springboard for players such as two-time champion Hideki Matsuyama of Japan (2010 and 2011), China’s Guan Tianlang (2012 winner who went on to become the youngest ever to make the cut at the Masters) and the promising Australian Curtis Luck (2016).