The Asia Pacific Amateur Championship trophy at Dubai Creek – photo AAC

The Asia Pacific Amateur Championship returns in Dubai this week after the 2020 event at Royal Melbourne was cancelled due to Covid issues.

The event is being played for the 12th occasion, bringing together the leading available amateurs from the Asia Pacific region with the carrot of one of the amateur’s most prestigious titles and a start at the 2022 Masters and Open Championship on offer to the winner.

A field of 93 will face the starter at the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club in Dubai, the first occasion the event has been staged in the Middle East, previous host nations including, China (three times), Singapore (twice), Japan, Thailand, Australia, Hong Kong, South Korea and New Zealand.

Players representing 28 of the 42 countries included in the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation countries are assembled in Dubai, the field reduced in 2021 as a result of the constraints some countries have faced due to the issues surrounding Covid.

The leading world ranked amateur is in the field, Japan’s Keita Nakajima, who is looking to become the third Japanese player to win the title, although one of those, Hideki Matsuyama, won the event twice in 2010 and 2011.

Japan’s last win was in 2018 when Takumi Kanaya won in Singapore before turning professional twelve months ago and becoming one of the Japan Golf Tour’s most successful players since with two victories as a professional in addition to his win on that tour as an amateur in 2019.

Matsuyama is undoubtedly the most successful player to emerge from the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship, winning eight PGA Tour titles including his historic Masters win at Augusta National in 2021.

Two-time winner of the event, China’s Yuxin Lin, will take his place in this week’s field looking to become the first three time winner of the event, the 21 year old left-hander having won in Wellington (NZ) in 2017 and again in his homeland in 2019.

While some countries are unable to meet their quota of six players, Australia has been able to do so. The leading six available Australians based on their standing in the world amateur ranking are invited and will tee it up on Wednesday.

Chinese and Japanese golfers have won the event on three occasions each, Australia having won twice, in 2014 (Anthony Murdaca) and in 2016 (Curtis Luck).

The Australian line-up this year includes Lukas Michel, Hayden Hopewell, Haydn Barron, Lachlan Barker, Andree Lautee and Connor McKinney.

Michel is the leading ranked amateur amongst the Australians playing this week, the 2019 US Mid-Amateur Champion and 2021 Master of the Amateurs champion to play the event for the first occasion.

New Zealand is represented by just one player, Jimmy Zheng although several ranked higher than him were unavailable due to quarantine issues.

The Asia Pacific Amateur Championship has produced several PGA Tour winners including Matsuyama, Cameron Smith, Chinese Taipei’s C.T. Pan and most recently Lucas Herbert, which, along with the exploits of players such as Kanaya who is playing with such success in Japan, highlights the effectiveness of the event in developing the strength of golf in the Asia Pacific Region.

The event is played over 72 holes and begins on Wednesday the 3rd of November.