New Zealand is to host one of the world’s most prestigious amateur golf tournaments.
The Royal Wellington Golf Club has been awarded the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in October 2017 which will be broadcast live around the world.
The tournament is supported by three Founding Partners: the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation, the Masters Tournament and The R&A. It is one of the largest tournaments of its type in the world, with the winner getting a place at the following year’s Masters and a spot in The Open Qualifying Series, the final stage to gain entry into The Open Championship.
“Royal Wellington is honoured by the invitation to host the tournament at the Heretaunga championship course,” says Club Captain, Andrew Meehan, ONZM. “Hosting this tournament will give New Zealand international exposure only possible through an event like the Rugby World Cup."
The decision was announced at The Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club in Hong Kong, which is hosting this year’s championship. Mr Meehan, who was there for the announcement, says this is a fantastic opportunity for the club, for golf in New Zealand, and for the Wellington region.
“Hosting this tournament at Heretaunga is the culmination of a lot of work and considerable planning by many people. New Zealand Golf has been working for some time to get the event to New Zealand including hosting a number of visits from both the Masters Tournament and The R&A who selected Royal Wellington after visiting and reviewing a number of great New Zealand courses.
“It also follows a substantive redevelopment designed by Greg Turner and Scott Macpherson to create a true championship course that was recently voted the best members’ course in the country.”
New Zealand golf superstar and women's world number 2 Lydia Ko says the young amateur golfers will be in for a treat when they tee up in New Zealand at the Royal Wellington Golf Club.
“What great news to hear the Asia Pacific Amateur is coming to New Zealand. The golfers will love being in my home country as it is such a spectacular place to visit with so many amazing golf courses.”
The top 120 amateur players from the Asia-Pacific region and will compete with 10 places available for New Zealanders as host. “The backing of the Masters Tournament and The R&A is the ultimate opportunity for the tournament’s winner,” says Mr Meehan.
“The tournament itself will be run by a team from the three Founding Partners, and is arguably the most important golf tournament ever held in New Zealand.
“It will be broadcast live to more than 160 countries and give unprecedented exposure to our course, and golf tourism in New Zealand,” says Mr Meehan.
New Zealand’s top professional golfer Danny Lee, former amateur world number one and currently ranked 36th in world, says hosting the tournament is great news for the Royal Wellington Golf Club.
“It’s awesome news that the Asia Pacific Amateur is going to be held in New Zealand. Our country is such a cool place to visit and to play golf – the players will love it. I never had the opportunity to play in the Asia Pacific when I was an amateur but wish I did. The opportunity to win a place at the Masters and Open qualifying is incredible.”
Established in 2009, the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship has quickly become one of the most celebrated amateur golf tournaments in the world with Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama a two-time winner.
Mr Meehan says organisers visited the club twice and were impressed by the championship standard of the new course. “We also emphasised the strong amateur tradition in New Zealand golf, and the fact that we are a members’ club. It’s an exceptional honour to work alongside the Masters Tournament and The R&A, and our goal is to provide a tournament showcase for New Zealand golf.”
Chairman of New Zealand Golf Mr Paul Fyfe says the Championship is a key event on players’ calendars every year. “The event compares to some large professional tournaments and the chance to play in the in the following year’s Masters Tournament and The Open Championship is a once in a life time opportunity.”
“It is an extraordinary privilege for this event to be hosted in New Zealand,” says Mr Fyfe. “It offers a wonderful playing opportunity for our best young developing players, and New Zealand has an opportunity to present itself on the world stage in a way not seen before in our sport.”
Mr Meehan says planning for the 2017 event is already underway. “We’ve had tremendous support from Upper Hutt, the Wellington Region and the Government – everyone appreciates what this means for the game and the opportunity to promote New Zealand to the world.”
Heretaunga - The Royal Wellington Golf Club
The Heretaunga Championship Course at the Royal Wellington Golf Club was designed by Greg Turner and Scott Macpherson. Turner is one of New Zealand’s best known professional golfers having played on the European Tour where he recorded four wins and was also part of the winning European President’s Cup team in 1998.
“We’re proud of Heretaunga,” says Turner. “Our brief was a course for the members that was also of championship standard – the invitation to host the AAC confirms its status as one of the best courses in the country.”
Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship
The 2015 Asia Pacific Amateur Championship is currently being played in Hong Kong at The Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club with six New Zealand amateurs competing.
In 2016, the tournament will be hosted at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in South Korea, which also was announced today.
When the event is played at Royal Wellington Golf Club in 2017, as host country, New Zealand will have 10 players in the field in what presents a wonderful opportunity for success.No New Zealander has ever won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, with Peter Spearman Burn (2010) and Ben Campbell (2011) finishing 3rd being the closest to the coveted trophy.