By Sean Martin, Golfweek
Amateurs have one more opportunity to qualify for next year’s Masters, but they’ll have to cross an ocean to pursue that golden ticket. The winner of the Asian Amateur, scheduled for Nov. 1-4 at Thailand’s Amata Spring Country Club, earns an invitation to the year’s first major.
Several players with ties to American colleges will highlight the field, led by Washington sophomore Cheng-Tsung Pan. Two-time defending Asian Am champ Hideki Matsuyama also is in the field; Matsuyama has made the cut at the past two Masters, and won on the Japan Tour, as well.
Former Northwestern player Eric Chun was runner-up in the inaugural Asian Am in 2009 to earn a spot in International Final Qualifying for the Open Championship. He used that exemption to qualify for the 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews.
Invitations for the championship were sent to the leading players from the 36 Asia Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) member countries. Each country is automatically provided with two positions, which are to be filled by their highest-ranked players from the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR) as of Aug. 29, 2012.
The remainder of the field is filled by taking the next highest ranked players from the WAGR with the maximum number of players allowed from a country being six. The only exception is for the host country, which is allowed to nominate an additional four players.
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• Anton Arboleda, Philippines: The UCLA junior is No. 74 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. He was an honorable-mention All-American last season.
• Oliver Goss, Australia: Goss, who advanced to the quarterfinals of this year’s U.S. Amateur, is scheduled to attend Tennessee beginning in the spring season.
• Rico Hoey, Philippines: Hoey, a high-school junior who’s made a verbal commitment to USC, won this year’s Junior World Championship, shooting a final-round 69 on Torrey Pines South to beat Beau Hossler by a shot. He’s No. 15 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings.
• Tae Wan Lee, Korea: Lee, a high-school senior who lives in Orlando, is No. 9 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings. He finished T-7 at last year’s Asian Amateur.
• Cheng-Tsung Pan, Chinese Taipei: The Washington sophomore is a national player-of-the-year candidate after finishing in the top-3 in his first three starts this year. At No. 7 in the R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking, he’s the highest-ranked player in the Asian Amateur field. Pan was a second-team All-American as a freshman.
• Andy Hyeon Bo Shim, Korea: Shim won this year’s U.S. Junior, beating 2010 champion Jim Liu in the final. Shim, of Duluth, Ga., is No. 12 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings.
• Jonathan Woo, Singapore: The Oregon sophomore was medalist and champion at this year’s Singapore Match Play Amateur. He finished eighth in the 2009 Asian Amateur.