It’s a week like no other in amateur golf in our region.
In eight short years, the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship has become the standout event for billions of aspiring golfers.
And, let’s face it, the lure of the game’s two most coveted professional trophies is what it’s all about.
Not only will the winner hold sway over the entire Asia-Pacific region, they will have a shot at playing in The Masters and The Open Championship in 2018.
It is the topic du jour among all contestants this week as the region’s best talent descends on Royal Wellington Golf Club on a windswept part of the North Island of New Zealand.
And with a September reconnaissance trip alongside their Kiwi counterparts under their belt, the six-strong Aussie contingent is raring to get going tomorrow.
Here’s what they have to say about potentially the biggest week of their young lives …
TRAVIS SMYTH (NSW)
“There’s a lot on the line. A spot at the Masters – that’s the one you dream about as a kid and now this opportunity is in our hands, it’s amazing. Five years ago, I wouldn’t have expected to have an opportunity to play for a spot in the Masters, so it’s pretty cool to be able to tee it up this week with that on the line.
“A lot of us Aussie guys we get to play a lot in the wind, so it’s no drama here. Picking it here is the hard part and we’ve done a bit of research, so I hope it pays off for one of us.
“Being the lowest ranked player here, I suppose I have a target on my back. But there’s a lot of guys here who are capable of winning, so I don’t think it really works like that. A lot of them should be thinking about winning, not about me, in order to play well.”
MIN WOO LEE (WA)
“I’ve played big tournaments with big prizes like this at stake. So yeah, it’s a big deal to play in this tournament, but you don’t want to think about it too much.
“We’re used to this wind back home, all of our guys, but particularly at (Royal) Fremantle for me with the `Doctor’ and it gets windy there, too, so I’ve probably got an advantage shaping shots into the wind and downwind. It’s going to be tricky, but that won’t affect us much, hopefully.
“It would mean a lot to play at the Masters, would be a dream come true from the time I was a little kid, so whatever opportunity you get, you just hope you can take it.”
CHARLIE DANN (QLD)
“There’s been a big lead-up to this event and talked about a lot, so it’s pretty exciting to get here and have that chance to play at the Masters. People put a lot of pressure on you, but I think it’s a good pressure – a good learning pressure – so I’m ready to go.
“I’ve had so much on lately that playing for the green jacket has been on my mind, but at the back. So I think I have to treat it as a reward if I play well this week and execute my plan well.
“The course suits me fine because it’s tight and I don’t miss a lot of fairways, and it’s soft so you can attack the greens.”
DYLAN PERRY (NSW)
“The course is in great condition, we’re ready to go. I have had a few disappointments this year in terms of (just missing out on majors), but wow, what a chance this would be to play in the Masters.
“I’ve had a really good year and I’m confident that it will continue into this week … I’m just keen to get out there now and get going at it.”
SHAE WOOLS-COBB (QLD)
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity. The game’s not too bad and my short game is on fire, so hopefully I can hit it decently and get to use it a bit when it counts.
“To play for the green jacket is what you dream about as a little fella, so it would be awesome to get there. When I was playing well in the US (mid-winter), I was surprised with where my game was and I like being the quiet achiever, so hopefully I can do that again this week.”
HARRISON ENDYCOTT (NSW)
“This is the tournament all amateurs in our region want to play in, alongside the US Amateur, probably. We are all extremely well prepared for it. But at the same time, we’ve done enough now to treat it like any other golf tournament and that’s how you have to try to play it.
“To have a crack at the green jacket would be fantastic. You want to do it as an amateur because you don’t get many chances at it … it would be so special. It has flashed through my mind, and The Open Championship has too, all the majors do. But you can only control your game and see where it leads you at the end of the week.”