Lin Yuxin, winner of the 2017 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC), returns to the 11th edition of the championship in Shanghai later this month confident of putting together a strong performance in front of energized home fans.
Two years ago, the left-handed Lin, then only 17, birdied the 17th hole and eagled the 18th at Royal Wellington Golf Club in New Zealand to become the AAC’s third Chinese champion. It was an unprecedented finish for the Chinese team at the championship, as its players also claimed the second (Andy Zhang) and third (Yechun Yuan) positions on the final leader board.
This year’s AAC, which is an ‘elite’ event in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), will be played from September 26-29 at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, China.
Leading the field, which is comprised of the finest amateurs in the region, is the defending champion and current WAGR No.2, Takumi Kanaya of Japan, but local crowds will no doubt be cheering for the 19-year-old Lin as he aims to bring the trophy back to China. Lin will be flying in from Los Angeles to compete after starting his freshman year at the University of Southern California (USC) last month.
Following his win in 2017, Lin was in the running to defend his title at the 2018 AAC, held at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore. He shot the lowest round of the championship – a third-round 62 – which gave him the lead going into the final round, but a 75 on Sunday led him to a T-9 finish.
“I’ve always enjoyed playing the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, which is one of the most prestigious events in amateur golf. This being my first AAC event in China, I’m really excited to play in front of the home crowd and hopefully play some good golf,” said Lin, who hails from Beijing.
“I am very honoured to be able to compete in this year’s championship at one of the best courses in our country. Playing at home really means a lot to me. It is such a great motivation for me and the other Chinese players to keep the trophy on home soil.”
The only player to win two AAC titles is Hideki Matsuyama, champion in both 2010 and 2011. Both Lin and Kanaya will have an opportunity to join the Japanese superstar as two-time champions later this month.
After experiencing the highly coveted opportunities awarded to the AAC champion by competing at the 2018 Masters and The 148th Open at Carnoustie, Lin is determined to find the form that earned him the title in 2017. He even made sure to get a sneak peek of Sheshan International Golf Club in July despite a hectic schedule as he prepared for college in the United States.
“It really was a great experience for me to play in two majors last year as an amateur and also a great opportunity to learn from the best players in the world,” Lin said. “I would like to thank the Augusta National Golf Club and The R&A for giving amateurs in our region the opportunity to compete in these major championships and gain invaluable experience.”
After experiencing Sheshan International Golf Club for the first time in July, Lin said: “I am sure that the course is going to be in great conditions just like what we have seen on TV (during the WGC-HSBC Champions, which it hosts annually).
“What I did find out was that you have to be consistent with every aspect of your game if you want to play well at Sheshan. There are holes where you can get aggressive and then there are holes that you have to be very careful. I think it will be a great test of golf.”
Lin has played in eight professional events on the China Tour this year and made the cut in six. He also reached the round of 32 in the US Junior Amateur Championship and is currently ranked 146th in the WAGR – the best among the 10 Chinese players in the field.
“I feel like I have made a lot of progress in my game throughout the year, even though the results haven't been great in 2019. However, I'm feeling confident with my game right now and I am trying to get better every day,” said Lin, who suffered a wrist injury last year.
“Things have been great for me since I moved to USC. I am truly enjoying my time here and the whole team has been very helpful. Education is definitely a big factor for me, and I want to prepare myself for a career in professional golf during my college years. I think I am headed in the right direction.”
The AAC was created in 2009 by the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC), the Masters Tournament and The R&A. A field of 120 players from 39 Asia Pacific nations is expected to compete in the championship, which returns to China for the third time. The country hosted the inaugural AAC in 2009 at Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzhen, followed by the 2013 edition at Nanshan International Golf Club in Longkou City, Shandong.
Apart from Lin and Kanaya, the championship also features Australia’s David Micheluzzi, currently ranked fourth in the WAGR, World No.11 Blake Windred (Australia) and World No.12 Chun An Yu (Chinese Taipei).
The champion in Shanghai will earn an invitation to the 2020 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club and a place in The 149th Open at Royal St George’s. The runner(s)-up will secure a position in The Open Qualifying Series.
Spectators are encouraged to watch the drama unfold September 26-29 at Sheshan International Golf Club. Entry to the 2019 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship is free of charge.