KASHATA KAWAGOE CITY, Japan (October 10, 2010) -- Hideki Matsuyama has made sure of an invitation to Augusta National for the 2011 Masters Tournament, as well as a place in Open Championship International Final Qualifying (IFQ), with victory at the Asian Amateur Championship. The 18-year-old from Ehime, Japan, signed for a four-under-par final round of 67 to finish five shots ahead of Australia’s Tarquin MacManus, who also earns an exemption into IFQ by virtue of his runner-up performance.
Matsuyama, whose caddie this week was a friend, class-mate and scratch-handicapper from Tohoku Fukushi University, emerged from a 118-man field, made up of competitors representing 27 different Asia Pacific Golf Confederation member nations, to claim the crown. 11 players from six nations finished tied-ninth or better. Four Japanese formed over one third of that number, including Yusuke Asaji, who finished alone in third place, five strokes ahead of Korea’s Lee Kyung-hoon and Ben Campbell of New Zealand.
Despite a nervous opening tee-shot at 10.50am Japan time, Matsuyama calmly made his way round the 7,068-yard (6,463-metre), par-71 West Course at Kasumigaseki Country Club, making four birdies and not a single bogey to increase his three-shot overnight lead to a comfortable five.
“I’m very, very happy. I was under par for all four days and now I’m in the Masters, so that’s very exciting,” explained Matsuyama, who reached 15 under par with rounds of 68, 69, 65 – the lowest of the Championship – and 67. “I was extremely pleased to keep the bogeys off my card today; it’s harder to not make mistakes than to make birdies.”
Victory for Matsuyama, who will become the first Japanese amateur to play in the Masters Tournament, seemed certain to be his after a birdie on the 380-yard, par-four 14th hole, courtesy of a remarkable second shot from deep in the woods, which finished eight feet from the hole.
“I had made two birdies on the 14th over the previous few days, so I was confident. My caddie and I picked out the pathway and I decided to go for it. I saw Phil Mickelson hit a great shot from in the trees at Augusta this year which gave me goose bumps. I cannot play a shot as good as that, but I was pleased that mine was similar.”
Runner-up MacManus, from Queensland, Australia, had looked set to stake a claim for the title after three consecutive birdies from the 564-yard, par-five sixth took him within two of Matsuyama. But he failed to take that form into the inward half, coming back in 37 for a fourth-round 69, two under par.
“I played well out there, gave it everything I had and just got beaten. He played some amazing golf out there and I just couldn’t quite match it,” said the 21-year-old, who in is in his senior year at the University of Arizona.
“I thought I might have a bit of a chance when I birdied those three holes in a row, but from there, it just went a bit flat. Even on the 15th – I had a short birdie-putt there – I was thinking: ‘If I birdie every hole from now, I’ve got a chance,’ but I put on a bit of a putting display there [he made bogey] and any chance was gone. But overall I’m pleased. I’ve never played in IFQ before, so it’s pretty exciting, and I’d obviously love to play in The Open.”
More than 150 countries received television coverage of the Championship, which was also streamed live on AsianAmateurChampionship.com. Bill Macatee, who is part of the Masters Tournament commentator team, and former European Tour professional Jay Townsend acted as the English-speaking announcers.
The 2011 Asian Amateur Championship will be played on The Singapore Island Country Club’s New Course from 29 September to 2 October 2011. The inaugural Championship was held on Mission Hills’ World Cup Course in Hainan, China, in 2009.