SHANGHAI – Augusta National and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club were behind the creation of the Asia-Pacific Amateur. The perks they offer are different.
The winner gets an invitation to the Masters, but only a spot in the final stage of qualifying for the British Open. With the changes to Open qualifying, that means Chang-woo Lee will be exempt into a tournament in Thailand where he will try to be among the top three finishers not already eligible.
''I want to see that maybe the winner of this Asian Amateur Championship can play directly over there as they can play at the Masters,'' said Kwang Soo Hur, president of the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation.
Perhaps that day is coming.
KING OF THE ORIENT: Korea's Lee wins 2013 Asia-Pacific Amateur
The Masters has the smallest field among majors – fewer than 100 players – and has room for an extra amateur. The Open is a 156-man field, with an alternate list. Plus, it was hard to predict the quality of the competition when this event began five years ago. The previous three winners all made the cut at Augusta National.
''It's become very, very evident from the champions that have been produced through this championship that they are of a world-class standard, and I think this is something that we and the R&A will continue to consider,'' R&A Chairman Wilson Sibbett said last week. ''We haven't a plan as yet for direct entry, and so at the moment, it would still be through qualifying. But it may well be that in the future, that may change.
''But we do recognize that the standard is extremely high, and the evidence from last year at the Masters was a very clear indicator that in a world calibration, these golfers are competitive and make the cut.''
The British Open has exemptions for the British Amateur, U.S. Amateur and European Amateur champions. The Masters offers six amateur exemptions – the winner and runner-up of the U.S. Amateur, and the winners of the British Amateur, Asia-Pacific Amateur, U.S. Amateur Public Links and U.S. Mid-Amateur.