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Teeing with class
IT was definitely not luck but rather all class when Australia's Curtis Luck won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) in South Korea last week. Not only did he overcome a seven shot deficit heading into the final round to win the title, it further cemented his place as one of the world's top amateur golfers after winning the US Amateur title in August.
As winner of the AAC, Luck secured a place in next year's US Masters. However, he was already guaranteed this - due to his US Amateur win - in addition to invites to next year's US Open and 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. No doubt, this is definitely incentive enough to keep his amateur status for the time being.
Luck, who also won the 2016 Western Australian Open and was runner-up at the 2014 Australian Amateur, carded a superb bogey-free 67 to finish on 12-under-par (276), one shot ahead of compatriot Brett Coletta and three more than third placed Luke Toomey of New Zealand.
Said Luck, who was part of the Australia team that won the World Amateur Team Championships in Mexico by a record 19 strokes three weeks ago: "I've had an amazing year and this has topped it off."
Added Luck, 20: "I came here to try my best and win, but I wasn't expecting to be standing here with the trophy at the end of the week. I've had a pretty good year and a couple of big wins in the past couple of months."
The AAC was created by the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC), the Masters Tournament and The R&A (golf's governing body) back in 2009. Its aim was to develop golf in Asia and provide a focal point for the amateur game in this part of the world.
The 120-player field is annually comprised of the top male amateurs in the Asia-Pacific region representing 38 Asia Pacific Golf Confederation member organisations. Countries include Australia, China, Kyrgyzstan and United Arab Emirates.
Han Chang-won of South Korea won the inaugural tournament at Mission Hills Golf Club in southern China, while Hideki Matsuyama of Japan triumphed in 2010 at Kasumigaseki Country Club on the outskirts of Tokyo and again in 2011 at The Singapore Island Country Club.
Chinese teenage sensation Guan Tianlang won the title in 2012 at the Amata Spring Country Club in Chonburi, Thailand.
South Korean Lee Chang-woo won the 2013 event in China at Nanshan International Golf Club.
Australian Antonio Murdaca became the next champion in 2014 at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club, and the defending champion was Chinese No 1-ranked amateur golfer Jin Cheng, who claimed victory at The Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club in Hong Kong in 2015.
This year, the eighth edition was held at the magnificent Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, and next year will see it played out on the Royal Wellington Golf Club in New Zealand from Oct 26 to 29.