Australia’s Curtis Luck won the eighth Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC), held at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea. Luck, who had already earned places in the 2017 Masters Tournament, the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills and The 146th Open at Royal Birkdale next year after winning the U.S. Amateur in August, carded a bogey-free 67 on Sunday to complete a seven-stroke comeback and secure a one-shot victory over compatriot Brett Coletta, who earned a place in The Open Qualifying Series.
“I’ve had an amazing year and this has topped it off,” said Luck, who was part of the Australia team that won the World Amateur Team Championships in Mexico two weeks earlier. “I came here to try my best and win, but I wasn’t expecting to be standing here with the trophy at the end of the week. I’ve had a pretty good year and a couple of big wins in the past couple of months.”
For 2017, the championship moves to Royal Wellington Golf Club in New Zealand from October 26-29, and will feature the best amateur players from the 40 member organisations of the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC).
The Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, which was first played in 2009, undoubtedly inspired the idea of building something similar in Latin America. The AAC has become one of the world’s most prestigious amateur championships. The back-to-back victories of future PGA TOUR star Hideki Matsuyama, as well as the success of 14-year-old Guan Tianlang, had a huge impact in the golf world. That is why the Masters Tournament, The R&A and the United States Golf Association (USGA) joined forces to create the Latin America Amateur Championship (LAAC) and help the region boost the development of the game.
This championship grants the winner a place in the Masters Tournament, as well as full exemptions into The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur Championship and any other USGA amateur championship for which he is eligible. In addition, the winner and the runner(s)-up earn a place in The Open Qualifying Series and in sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open Championship. These opportunities have been enjoyed by LAAC champions Matias Dominguez (2015), of Chile, and Paul Chaplet (2016), of Costa Rica, and runners-up Alejandro Tosti (2015), of Argentina, and Jorge Garcia (2016), of Venezuela. They, too, have made their mark on the game, and it is hoped that they will become stars who experience continued success in the sport.
The LAAC has developed quickly into a key event for the region and now more young people from South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean want to become the next heroes. Their drive to be the best will be on display at the third edition of the Latin America Amateur Championship, which will take place from January 12-15, 2017, at Club de Golf de Panama.