The Asian Amateur Championship begins tomorrow at Kasumigaseki Country Club, with an invitation to the 2011 Masters Tournament, as well as a place in International Final Qualifying for the 140th Open Championship at stake. 118 players representing 27 Asia Pacific Golf Confederation member nations will get their challenges underway from both the first and 10th tees at 7.00am local time on the 7,068-yard, par-71 West Course.
Home hopes rest on a 10-strong contingent of Japanese players, led by Faldo Series Europe Grand Final Champion Masamichi Ito, 2010 Junior Open Champion Kenta Konishi – Konishi will strike the first tee-shot tomorrow – and Topy Cup Champion Yoshinori Fujimoto, who recently reached 17th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR). At Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, 15-year-old Ito added the Faldo Series Europe title to the Faldo Series Grand Final he won earlier in the year at Mission Hills, China.
“I played better today than yesterday, so hopefully, if I keep on going up and up, I can do quite well,” Ito explained. “I think that, because I’m in my home country, there are many things that are to my advantage, but at the same time, I do feel a bit of pressure. My ultimate goal is the Masters so if I can play well for four days, maybe the result will come with it.”
The highest-ranked players in the field are India’s Rashid Khan and Ben Campbell of New Zealand. They lie 33rd and 35th in the world respectively, though both broke into the top-15 earlier in 2010.
“Hopefully I’ll do well in this tournament,” said two-time Faldo Series Asia Champion Khan. “I’ve won two national championships this year so I’m pretty confident and I’m hitting it well.
“Whoever wins the tournament this week and gets to play in the Masters and has a chance at The Open, it’s a dream come true for them.”
Campbell, who this year became only the second amateur to win the Tauranga Open, said: “I’ve been playing pretty well recently, and I hit it well today, so I should be ok. You don’t have a better chance at getting into a Major – just play well all week and you’re in the Masters! But I’m trying not to think about that. I’m just going to play each shot as it comes, even though the reward’s a pretty good incentive to play each one well!”
Also expected to contend is Korea’s Kim Sih-wan, the former world number five, who became the first Stanford University freshman All-American since Tiger Woods. Now in his senior year, Kim is looking to emulate friend and compatriot Eric Chun, last year’s runner-up, in earning the chance to make his Major Championship at the Asian Amateur.
“It would be great to get a chance in a Major as an amateur,” said Kim. “I’d like to think that this represents my best chance. The course is great, the layout’s really good and I think I’ve got a good chance if I strike the ball decently.”
Tokyo Broadcasting System is producing the world feed that is being distributed in high-definition to more than 150 countries via ESPN STAR Sports (Asia), ONE HD (Australia), TSN (Canada), ESPN Latin America, Fox Sports (Middle East), Sky Sports (New Zealand) and ESPN2 (United States).
AsianAmateurChampionship.com will stream live coverage of rounds three and four from 1:30-4:30 pm Tokyo time on Saturday 9 October and Sunday 10 October. 30-minute highlight programmes will also be available on the site after rounds one, two and four.
Live scores and stories will appear on AsianAmateurChampionship.com throughout the event.