Asia Pacific Amateur Championships – Korea

Nick was one of six New Zealand amateurs to be selected to play at the Asia Pacific Championships in Korea between the 6th and the 9th October.  This is the third time that Nick has played in this tournament.

The Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship is an annual amateur golf tournament. It is played at various locations throughout Asia-Pacific. It is organized by the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) and was first played in 2009. It was organized in conjunction with the Masters Tournament and The R&A, organizers of The Open Championship. The winner receives an invitation to the Masters and, along with the runner-up, gains entry to International Final Qualifying for the Open.  It is also considered an “elite” event by the World Amateur Golf Ranking in that any player that makes the cut is eligible to be ranked. Only the U.S. Amateur, British Amateur, and European Amateur have this distinction.

Invitations for the championship are sent to the leading players from the 40 Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) affiliated organizations. Each organization is automatically provided with two positions, which are to be filled by their highest-ranked players from the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR).

If there is only one or no players from a member organization in the Ranking, a member organization is able to nominate one or two players accordingly, provided the player/s have a handicap of 5.4 or less.

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 any organization being six. The only exception is for the host country, which is allowed to nominate an additional four players.

This year’s tournament was played at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Korea.  The Club is situated within a modern residential development in the Songdo International Business District.  Songdo is an ambitious multi-billion dollar “smart city” project which lies just over an hour’s drive from Seoul, on the shores of the East China Sea and it utilises more than 1,500 acres of reclaimed land along the Incheon waterfront.

A substantial amount of soil was shifted to shape the fairways here and the course is set out in two returning nines, named Urban and Links, with holes on each circuit routed around sizeable housing components.

Water hazards form an integral part of the strategic test and over half the holes on the card feature ponds or lakes that come into play either off the tee or close to the green.

The Presidents Cup tournament was played on this course in October 2015.  The Presidents Cup is a series of men’s golf matches between a team representing the United States and an International Team representing the rest of the world minus Europe. Europe competes against the United States in a similar but considerably older event, the Ryder Cup.  The tournament is held every second year and is hosted alternately in the United States and in countries represented by the International Team.

Nick finished eleventh with rounds of 71, 72, 71 and 77 finishing on three over par for the tournament.  The winner was Curtis Luck from Australia who finished on twelve under par.  Luke Toomey, Nick’s team mate finished in third place on nine under par.  All of the New Zealand team made the cut and played all four rounds of the tournament.  

Nick hit his driver really well in the first two rounds but unfortunately this dropped off a bit in rounds three and four. He also missed a lot of easy up and downs although made a lot of hard ones.  The conditions in the final round were pretty tough with the wind getting up early.  This was reflected in the scores with very few players being under par.  It was a hard fought week that has given Nick a lot to think about and to work on back in Iowa.

From left to right – Nick Coxon, Ryan Chisnall, Luke Brown, Daniel Hillier, Nick Voke and Luke Toomey

Media Coverage

NZ Golf – Day Four

In what was a dramatic final day, Curtis Luck of Australia has come from behind to win the 2016 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship and New Zealand’s Luke Toomey finished third at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea.

Luck now the now holds the two biggest prizes in amateur golf after winning the US Amateur earlier in the year as his golfing CV builds at pace.

The day started as a two horse race with Luck starting the final round seven shots behind, but with the 54 hole leader Brett Coletta making two double bogeys half way through the round, the door opened for his fellow Australian who pounced and won the tournament by one shot after a 72 hole birdie.

This also left the door slightly ajar for New Zealand’s Luke Toomey who was making a run on his own with an impressive round of six under (66). This rocketed him up the leaderboard to finish in third alone in what has been a successful week for the 23 year old.

“I’m just bloody stoked and it’s satisfying to know the hard work is starting to trend nicely,” said Toomey.
The Waikato number one kept the faith after holing a 35-foot putt for birdie on 12 and for the first time this week carded a bogey free round which included six birdies. Although he left his run slightly late this positive result will do him the world of good.

“I came here with the intention to do something special but I probably didn’t make those birdies quick enough. I’m not going to think of the what-ifs, I’m just proud of what I did achieve today.”

Toomey’s finish matched Ben Campbell in 2011 as the best by a New Zealander in the tournament’s seven-year history. Campbell finished third behind Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama.

Nick Voke was next best Kiwi in 11th place on three-over. Tournament debutant Daniel Hillier finished tied for 15th on six-over, followed by another first-timer Luke Brown (eight-over), Nick Coxon (13-over) and Ryan Chisnall (16-over).

All players showed character and fight throughout the week, but what was most impressive was the way they conducted themselves off the course. They were a hit with many, especially all the local caddies.

It was a special week for the large New Zealand contingent inside and outside the ropes as we prepare to host this amazing event in 2017 at Royal Wellington. To have the world’s best amateurs and the world’s most powerful golfing bodies in our back yard will be something very special.

NZ Golf – Day Three

The New Zealand contingent of golfers will require something special if they are to get close to winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship after another solid, yet not spectacular day.

Luke Toomey is now the leading Kiwi at three under par, a whopping 11 shots behind Australian Nick Coletta. In difficult winds Toomey carded a two under round of 70 to sit in eighth spot alone.

“It hit it really nicely today, gave myself plenty of chances and hit some good putts that just slipped by, but two under on a day like this was pleasing,” said Toomey.

 Nick Voke is one shot behind Toomey and once again produced a very colourful scorecard which was highlighted by an eagle on the par four, 14th that got his round back on track.

It was a tough day at the office for Nick Coxon who was the leading Kiwi through 36 holes. After a solid start things turned to custard as the 20 year old found himself in bunker trouble recording a double bogey on the par three eighth. Deciding his fate was a run of four bogeys on the final stretch, from holes 14-17 which dropped him out of contention finishing at two over par (T16).

Once again the Australians are perched at the top of the pops with Coletta showing no signs of slowing down. He couldn’t match his opening rounds of five under, but in tough conditions he managed a round of four under which included a par save after hitting a water hazard on the par four 14th.

The 20 year old will be joined in the final group by his roommate for the week Cameron Davis who is trailing by two shots. Davis is the more experienced of the duo, but is it enough to chase down his exciting friend and fellow countrymen in what looks to be a two horse race.

Finally visiting our other Kiwi golfers, Daniel Hillier was showing comfort throughout his round before a tough double bogey, bogey finish which left him at four over for the day, three over for the tournament and in a tie for 20th.

Luke Brown finished one over for the third round to be placed in a tie for 26th. He too had a double bogey on the card after what was looking to be another solid round for the Northland number one.

Ryan Chisnall rounds out the six strong New Zealand side, just one shot behind Brown at six over after an even par round today.

This young side is building vital experience every day and as we are on the eve of the final round, many will be thinking of shooting the lights out, but also Royal Wellington next year and how well this week will be preparing them for that challenge on their home turf.

NZ Golf – Day Two

All six New Zealand golfers have made the cut at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) hosted by the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club with Nick Coxon once again finishing as the best Kiwi at four-under par.

The 20-year-old from Riverside Golf Club finds himself in a tie for seventh and within striking distance at the biggest tournament of his career, which if won results in an invitation to the Augusta Masters and to The Open Championship final qualifying.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Coxon who had a nervous finish which included three tee shots (two provisional’s) on the 16th, however with the help of the 20 strong Kiwi gallery, they found his first ball to get away with a bogey five.

After this hole it was clear his driver was at sixes and sevens which forced him to play his new three iron off the par five 18th highlighting he was far from in control. He managed to get out of there with a par save and was happy to be in the clubhouse with a respectable number to sign off.

“Yeah it’s good to get in the hut! It got a bit shaky at the end and I was pretty lucky to make five back on the sixteenth considering I had three tee shots, but all in all it’s pretty solid,” said Coxon.

“The driver was kind of going all over the shop, so I didn’t know what I was going to get, but the three iron was pretty trusty so I thought I would just whack that down there.”

Coxon knows the challenge that lies ahead as we reach moving day in Korea.

“I will have to shoot a couple of good ones to catch Brett I think, but you never know.”

Waikato’s Luke Toomey once again showed he has no issues banking birdies after making three throughout his round, although his bad holes will be haunting him heading into the weekend as his three bogey’s resulted in him posting an even-par 72 .

The 23-year-old is in positive spirits as he looks to go low on moving day at the AAC.

“It leaves me with really no option but to come out and unleash tomorrow which can be a really good thing. I’m really excited and I’ll go guns blazing,” said Toomey.

Toomey finished the day one-under par for the tournament and is not alone on that number with two other Kiwi’s in the form of Daniel Hillier and Nick Voke joining him.

Voke had an extremely colourful scorecard that included an eagle mixed with bogey’s either side of it and a double bogey on the par five 15th. He then showed tremendous fight making back-to-back birdies on the final two holes to salvage his round.

Wellington’s Daniel Hillier had his regular gallery of Royal Wellington members following his round throughout the morning. Finishing at two-under, Hillier made six birdies and four bogeys to prove this Jack Nicklaus designed course challenges you every hole.

It’s hard to look past the large Australian contingent as they dominate the leaderboard with three of the top four players coming from across the ditch.

Brett Coletta leads the field with a ten-under par total after two matching rounds of five-under (67). He will be going head-to-head with his higher ranked team mates Cameron Davis (nine-under) and 2016 US Amateur Champion Curtis Luck (five-under).

Due to strong winds forecast later in the day tomorrow, there has been much discussion on the starting time of round three and the tournament team has decided there will be a two tee start to ensure play is done before dangerous winds hit Incheon, Korea.

All in all, to have four Kiwi’s in the red and inside the top fifteen at this level is a hugely positive start to the tournament. Now is the time when the men are separated from the boys and Masters glory gets ever closer.

Enjoy your moving day.

NZ Golf – Day One

Waikato’s Nick Coxon is flying the flag for New Zealand and sits in a tie for fifth after round one of the 2016 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship shooting a round of three under, 69.

It was a day of ‘what if’s’ for the six strong Kiwi side with plenty of birdies on every card, but all players found it tough to negate the bogeys.

To make Coxon’s round all the more special, he arrived on the range to find a crack in his go-too three iron and played the round without it. The 20 year old then opened his account with a double bogey to continue his bad run of luck on the opening morning.

He then responded with five birdies to show class and mental strength that proved he is able to play at this high level of golf.

“I just had to try and steady the ship with a couple of birdies and I managed to do that. I was confident after that and kept playing solidly which was good.”

“It was good fun and a solid start, it’s just nice to get underway and in pretty good fashion,” said Coxon.

“I just took my chance when I needed to and made a few birdies and I’ll try to keep it going.”

Coxon almost found the scenario comical when asked about his faithful three iron.

“I was about to tee off and I looked at the face on my three-iron and there was a crack right at the bottom of it. So I just had to go without it. There were two tee shots where I really wanted it but I managed.”

His casual demeanour was a calming factor in a great opening performance against the best amateur golfers in the world.

“Everyone’s got two arms and two legs so we’ll be all right.”

The day of what if’s was highlighted by more than just Coxon. Luke Toomey and Nick Voke both finished on one under par with Toomey making six birdies coupled with two doubles in a round where he was so close.

They may only be at one under par and six shots back from Australian Cameron Davis, but they still sit in a tie for 10th which shows most struggled on day dot.

Northland’s Luke Brown also made his quota of birdies with five throughout the round. However, they were matched with five bogeys to end the day flat with the card. In his debut Asia-Pacific Amateur, this was a great start for the 21 year old.

Also on debut, Daniel Hillier made his way around the Jack Nicklaus designed golf course at one over par. Once again there were more positive signs before back to back bogeys on 13 and 14 slowed his round down, but at the ripe age of 18 this is a very positive start to his campaign and this experience alone can only do his favours leading into next year’s event, hosted in his home city of Wellington.

Ryan Chisnall had a day to forget and even with a glorious eagle on the 18th to finish the day, his round of six over par will be tough to swallow for the Eisenhower rep.

NZ Golf – Pre Tournament 

This week six of New Zealand’s leading amateurs will play in the world’s biggest individual stroke play event, The Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship. The winner of this prestigious tournament will receive an invitation to play in the 2017 Masters at Augusta National.

Nick Voke (Manukau/Iowa State), Luke Toomey (Riverside), Ryan Chisnall (Greenacres), Nick Coxon (Riverside), Daniel Hillier (Manor Park) and Luke Brown (The Pines) all have the opportunity to create history at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Korea this week.

With New Zealand being awarded hosting rights for the 2017 tournament at Royal Wellington a large part of this year’s tournament is one big reconnaissance mission as well. This may be the biggest tournament to have ever been played in our country and provides an amazing opportunity as the home nation with an extra four players able to be selected (10 total).

This event is treated no different to a world leading professional event and you can certainly see it. The effort and precision gone in to make this feel like the ‘Mini Masters’ is simply superb and with a good contingent of Kiwis here, it will do wonders for not only our players, but for anyone involved in next year’s tournament.

The above combination of New Zealand players provides a great mixture of youth and experience this week, especially after a successful Eisenhower Trophy campaign recently where Voke, Toomey and Chisnall finished an impressive sixth place on the world stage.

This will be Voke’s third AAC making him very experienced, which will play a massive part as he feels this is his best chance to be there late on Sunday afternoon.

“I guess previous years it was a fantasy, but coming into this year it’s probably the first time I have got a legitimate chance, but with that comes a little expectation and added pressure, so it will be nice to see how I go with those obstacles,” said Voke.

“It may be an individual tournament, but it definitely has that team feel to it. We are all wearing the same uniforms and all representing the same country, so there is that element which will help make you step up.”

His determination was clear and Voke is certainly one to watch as the week progresses in Korea.

“To play for what we can, put everything on the line and compete against the best there is now better feeling in golf. This is why we practise, this why we do what we do week in week out so we are pretty excited for round one.”

This week has been made all the more special being played at the 2010 established Jack Nicklaus Golf Club, which already has some rich history after hosting the Presidents Cup last year. This featured our very own Danny Lee who played in his first Presidents Cup against a strong American outfit.

Lee sent through his best wishes to the players today with some great insight on how to play the course and how to handle yourself on the big stage which will no doubt motivate our boys.

To show the magnitude of the AAC, the event is broadcasted to over 160 countries with Sky Sport having LIVE coverage throughout New Zealand starting Thursday.

Continuing under its banner of ‘Creating Future Heroes’, the AAC will feature 120 players from the APGC’s 39 member associations and will be played over 72-holes of stroke play, with a cut for the leading 60 players plus ties.

Asia Pacific Website – Pre Tournament 

New Zealand’s Eisenhower Trophy representatives Nick Voke (21), Luke Toomey (23) and Ryan Chisnall (21) are among the players looking to upset the established order at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, which has been dominated by four nations since its inauguration in 2009.

South Korea (2009, 2013), Japan (2010, 2011) and China (2012, 2016) have each produced two champions, while Australia’s Antonio Murdaca won at home in 2014.

This week the Australian trio who romped to victory in the World Amateur Team Championships in Mexico two weeks ago head a powerful six-strong team in Incheon. Hosts South Korea boast 10 players including 2014 US Amateur Champion Yang Gunn and China field seven headed by defending champion Jin Cheng.

Voke, though, believes there’s a good chance for a player from a ‘new’ nation to get his hands on the prestigious trophy.
New Zealand finished sixth in the Eisenhower Trophy – second among APGC nations – and Voke believes he and his teammates have a solid chance over the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club’s 7,062-yard layout.

“There’s definitely the possibility of a new nation winning this year. I was talking with Luke about how winning the tournament and getting the invitations to the Masters and Open qualifying used to be more of a fantasy than anything else. I think this year is the first time it’s more of a possibility than a fantasy for us,” said Voke, who finished 20th in the Eisenhower Trophy individual standings, a stroke behind Toomey.

“It also helps that three of us were together in Mexico recently and are in pretty good form. It’s probably even more fun here because there’s six of us, all wearing the same uniforms each day. Although it’s an individual competition there’s still a team feel to it and we wish everyone on the team success so I’m sure you’ll see a couple of us on the leaderboard.”

As he prepares for his third Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, having finished 19th last year and 33rd in 2013, Voke concedes that one nation does stand out as the team to beat.

“Australia are the favourites, as much as I hate to admit it! They’ve got a really strong team and the blokes have a lot of international experience,” said Voke, now in his fourth and final year at Iowa State University.

“Cam [Davis] and Curtis [Luck] just finished one-two at the Eisenhower Trophy and Curtis is the US Amateur champion. Although they’re the favourites, I think there are a lot of guys this week with the potential to compete – including myself.”

Lloyd Jefferson Go, the Philippines’ top-ranked amateur, is another with the “potential to compete”, having tied for eighth in Hong Kong last year. Based in New Jersey, the 21-year-old Seton Hall University senior enters his fourth championship as the reigning Big East Player of the Year and individual champion.

“I’m feeling pretty good about my form coming into this. I’ve been playing pretty well the past couple of years,” said Cebu-born Go, who also played in South Korea last year, finishing seventh at the World University Games in Gwangju.
“I think everyone has a chance to win. I guess the Australians would be the favourites because they just won the World Amateur but if anyone from any country plays well they can win.”

Kevin Yu Chun-an, Chinese Taipei’s top-ranked amateur, is also one to watch as he embarks on his freshman year at Arizona State University. Now 18, Yu finished joint fourth in Hong Kong last year, when he also won the AJGA’s Junior Players Championship and the Western Junior Championship.

KK Limbhasut, Thailand’s top-ranked amateur, has been a standout player at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) since 2014 and heads a strong six-man team that includes Sangchai Keawcharoen and Atiruj Winaicharoenchai, seventh and 12th respectively last year.

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About SUNGRL

This blog was originally set up to share our 9 month adventure around Europe and the USA with friends and family in 2014. On returning to NZ in January 2015 I decided to carry it on so I could continue to share any future travel adventures - it has become my electronic travel diary. I hope you enjoy and get inspired to visit some of the wonderful places we have visited.
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