HONG KONG: The carrot doesn’t get any bigger than this.
An invitation to The Masters in Augusta, next year, awaits the winner of this year’s prestigious Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC), which tees off at the Cleawater Bay Golf and Country Club here on Thursday.
The winner and the runner-up will also be granted entry to the British Open Qualifying Series for The British Open at Royal Troon.
With such an exclusive invite to arguably golf’s most prestigious Major, the region’s top amateur golfers, including six from Malaysia, will be going all out at the AAC.
The six Malaysians are Low Khai Jei, Chan Tuck Soon, Ervin Chang, Muhd Afif Razif, Galven Kendall Green and Daeng Abdul Rahman Abdul Abdul Aziz.
Malaysia’s best-ever achievement in the tournament was Mohd Iszaimi Ismail’s joint-seventh placing in the inaugural tournament in China in 2009.
Of the six, Khai Jei is Malaysia’s best bet given his fine form of late.
This is down to the 19-year-old’s decision to feature more on the professional scene this year, notching six top-10 finishes on the PGM Tour that include a breakthrough victory at the Orna Closed Championship in Malacca in August.
And he’ll be relishing a return to the same course where he clinched the individual crown in the Lion City Cup in 2011.
Khai Jei, who finished joint 12th on his ACC debut in 2011, dares to dream.
“It’s great to be back on this course after four years ... I have only fond memories of this place,” said the world No. 156 ranked amateur.
“Although a top-10 finish would be great, I think I can do better than that since I’ve been playing well lately.
“We should dream big ... aim to win the AAC and for The Masters.”
Even 15-year-old ACC debutant Daeng is hoping to make an impact here.
He created history by becoming the youngest winner on the PGM Tour after capturing the Danau Closed Championship in April before adding the Saujana Amateur Open the following month.
“Since this is my first appearance after the Putra Cup, I’ll be happy with a top-20 finish.”