Melbourne, Australia: Asian dominance of the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship will come under severe threat over Royal Melbourne Golf Club’s Composite Course this week.
Since the event’s inauguration in 2009, there have been five successive winners from Asia – Koreans Han Chang-won  and Lee Chang-woo , Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama [2010 and 2011] and China’s Guan Tianlang .
However, with the championship being staged outside Asia for the first time, the odds are heavily stacked on an Australian emerging triumphant on home soil – and securing a starting spot in next year’s Masters Tournament at Augusta.
Although Guan, now aged 16, spearheads a strong Asian contingent, he acknowledges that a lack of experience playing in the type of conditions here will make it a tough proposition over the next four days.
‘I’ve played here a couple of times, but I think the Australians still have an advantage,’ conceded Guan, who improbably made the cut at Augusta last year, the youngest player ever to do so.
His views on the task facing the Asians at Royal Melbourne are endorsed by his compatriot Dou Zecheng, Chinese Taipei’s Pan Cheng-tsung and Korean Gunn Yang, who has already booked his place at Augusta following his surprise win in this year’s US Amateur.
‘The Asians are not used to this type of golf course,’ he said. ‘It’s a sand belt course, but it’s more like links-type because there’s lots of wind from the bay and the greens and fairways are a lot firmer. You’ve got to play a little bit different game. The Aussies practice in these conditions and are used to them.’
Dou says finding the right landing spots will be crucial.
‘The greens and landing areas are a lot different to China – much firmer. When you are hitting into the greens you have to think where the ball is going to bounce, where it’s going to roll and what the wind’s going to do.’