Nick welcoming his fellow competitors to Wellington
The Asia Pacific Amateur Golf Championship is an elite annual golf tournament held at various locations in the Asia Pacfic. The 2017 tournament was played in Nick’s home country of New Zealand 🇳🇿 . The Royal Wellington Golf Club just outside New Zealand’s capital city Wellington hosted the event. This Championship is the biggest and most prestigious golf tournament to be staged in New Zealand. The tournament is organized by the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) in conjunction with the Masters Tournament and The R&A, organisers of The Open Championship.
The Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship was created in February 2009 as a joint initiative to develop the game by the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, the Masters Tournament and The R&A. An invitation to play in the Masters Tournament and The Open is given to the winner, while the runner(s)-up gain a place in The Open Qualifying Series for The Open.
The 120-player field is annually comprised of the top male amateurs in the Asia-Pacific region representing the 41 Asia Pacific Golf Confederation member organisations.
Korean Han Chang-won triumphed at the inaugural event in China in 2009, before Hideki Matsuyama won in his native Japan in 2010 and successfully defended his title in Singapore the following year.
At 14 years old, Guan Tianlang of China won the fourth edition of the event in 2012, while Lee Chang-woo from South Korea claimed the title the next year in China.
Australian Antonio Murdaca became the next champion in 2014 at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club.
In 2015, Chinese No. 1-ranked amateur golfer Jin Cheng fired a course-record eight-under 62 en route to winning the AAC at The Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club in Hong Kong.
Australia’s Curtis Luck, then the world’s second-ranked amateur, overcame a seven-stroke deficit to secure a one-shot victory over compatriot Brett Coletta at the eighth Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship held at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Korea.
The Masters Trophy – The Asia Pacific Amateur Trophy – The Claret Jug (British Open)
72-holes, stroke play. A cut takes place after 36 holes for the leading 60 players plus ties. In the event of a tie after 72 holes, the winner is decided by a sudden-death playoff.
The champion receives the following:
An invitation to compete in the 2018 Masters Tournament.
Direct entry into The Open Championship at Carnoustie in 2018, conducted by The R&A.
The runner(s)-up receive the following:
A place in The Open Qualifying Series with the opportunity to qualify for The Open Championship at Carnoustie in 2018.
This is the fourth time Nick has represented New Zealand in this tournament with the first being back in 2013 in Korea. With Nick’s near future plans to transition into the professional ranks, it is only fitting that he wore the silver fern for the final time at home. Because New Zealand are the host nation they get to field a team of ten players. Nick is the top ranked New Zealand amateur in the team with a world amateur golf ranking of 44 at the time of the tournament.
Nick had the honour of giving the welcome speech to his fellow competitors as well as delivering the pledge of fair play. The welcome reception was memorable for the Royal New Zealand Defence Force Black Falcons doing a fly over the course followed by a rousing traditional Maori welcome.
The tournament started well for Nick as he shot a 4 under 67 on day one. On day two he shot a one over 72. Day three started really well with four birdies and a bogey on the front nine. He was six under at the turn but an uncharacteristic back nine saw him card five bogeys so he finished the day at two over. The last day saw a much more relaxed Nick and his two under 69 meant he finished the tournament in a tie for 10th at 3 under. This was his best finish at the Asia Pacific Amateur tournament after finishing 33rd in 2013, 19th in 2015 and 11th in 2016.
The winner was Yuxin Lin from China who finished with a birdie and an eagle to have a score of 14 under for the tournament. He was three shots clear of his fellow countryman Andy Zhang.
In Nick’s own words…..
The Asia Pacific Amateur Championship is a very special event for a number of reasons. The mission of the tournament is to grow the game of golf in our region (the Asia Pacific region). It does this by providing elite amateurs with an opportunity to compete at the highest possible level of competition while also providing the region with the resources and spotlight it needs to truly promote the game.
I was extremely fortunate to be a part of the championship proceedings this year and as such I was exposed to a side of the tournament that I had not seen before. I witnessed three of the most highly influential organizations in our sport come together for the greater good of growing the game. The amount of time, effort and resources allocated to this event is like nothing I have ever seen before. The ethos of the tournament echos my favorite Greek proverb “Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.” I believe that we will look back on this championship in a few decades and only then will we be able to truly understand and appreciate the impact that it has on the game of golf.
I was honored to carry around the ‘New Zealand favorite’ tag for the week. It truly was a humbling experience but one in which I wasn’t necessarily prepared for. The amount of media attention and spotlight placed on me was like nothing I had previously experienced. I spoke with Frank Nobilo at Saturday’s gala event about the position that I had found myself in – playing a championship of this caliber as the home-town favorite in my home country. That is big time. I am grateful for all the support I received throughout the week and all the opportunites I was given but unfortunately it became a bit of a mental grind. The on going interviews, press conferences, live TV sets, radio station sets and ‘picture-posing’ were all fantastic, but they were mentally draining and expended energy for an already marathon like week. Heading into the event, I knew that my performance on the golf course would be directly related to how I handled all the pressures off the golf course and in the end I was very proud of how I handled it all. Experiences like these get logged into our bank of life experiences and I know I will be better off for it.
This event will probably be the last time I get to represent New Zealand at the amateur level but I hope to continue to fly the NZ flag high as I transition into the professional ranks. I was fortunate enough to wear the silver fern on my chest on numerous occassions and I will always cherish each and every one of them. I would like to thank everybody who has supported me along the way, bringing you all on the journey with me is just as much fun for me as it is living it myself. I will always remember all the love and support that I have received on my journey this far and I thank you all very much!
AAC Golf Website – 25 October 2017
HOSTS UNITED: “A NEW ZEALAND VICTORY WOULD BE HUGE FOR GOLF IN THIS COUNTRY”
New Zealand’s leading players have emphasized how important it would be for the country’s golf development if one of the host’s 10-strong team could win this week’s ninth Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at Royal Wellington Golf Club.
Players from Australia, China, Korea and Japan have each claimed the trophy twice in the first eight years of the AAC and the New Zealand team believe hosting the championship for the first time has provided a golden opportunity for one of their own to lift the trophy.
Nick Voke, the country’s top-ranked player at 44 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), is looking to better his 11th-place finish in Korea last year, having tied for 19th in 2015 and finished 33rd in 2013.
“I think everyone can understand the magnitude of this event,” said the 23-year-old Voke, who graduated from Iowa State University this year.
“I think the mission of this championship is to improve grassroots golf and I think a New Zealand victory this week would be huge for the foundation of golf in this country. That’s why we’re here competing this week and why we’ll be putting our best foot forward.”
Hillier, the country’s second-ranked amateur, has been touted as one of the host’s top hopes due to his excellent form over the past two years and his membership of Royal Wellington, where he practices regularly. This week’s champion will earn spots in the 2018 Masters Tournament and, for the first time, The 147th Open at Carnoustie.
“With this being in New Zealand, it’s a huge opportunity for New Zealand Golf and us amateur golfers to really put our names out there and try our best to win a pretty major prize. It’s going to be an awesome week and we are all looking forward to it,” said the 19-year-old who tied for 15th on his debut in Korea last year.
Left-handed Luke Brown, the country’s fourth-ranked amateur, said all 10 New Zealand players would be supporting each other. As much as each player wants to win, there’s an overriding desire for a local to lift the trophy.
“We’re not just doing it for ourselves,” said the 22-year-old Brown, who finished 21st last year. “We’re doing it for our country, families and friends. They’re always behind us and there’s a lot of support. If one of us Kiwis could win, it doesn’t matter who it is, we’ll be out there supporting them.”
Ryan Chisnall, New Zealand’s third-ranked amateur, conceded that the Australian players start as favorites, especially as the team features four of the championship’s top five ranked players. Chisnall was also part of the team who played a friendly match against Australia at Royal Wellington in early September.
“Obviously there’s a lot of buzz around this event. It’s massive for our country and we’re pretty proud to have everyone here in New Zealand,” said Chisnall who’s playing the AAC for a third straight year.
“We play a lot with the Aussies, so we’ve formed some pretty good friendships. It was pretty cool for us to spend a few days with them and see how they go about their work leading into an event and all the information they try to gather. They have twice had champions in this event, so we would prefer it to be one of us this week!”
India’s Rayhan Thomas and US-based ‘Kevin’ Yu Chun-an of Chinese Taipei are among highly ranked players from countries yet to win the AAC, and Voke said a champion from outside the ‘big four’ would be special.
“A few countries have dominated this event in the past and if this championship is all about growing the game in this region, I think it would just promote that further if we do have a new champion. I think it would be pretty big,” Voke said.
“A new champion is just going to grow the game, so that’s a positive, but I’m obviously biased so I hope one of these boys beside me or myself can come up with the goods.”
Nick had his long time friend, Shiv Sabherwal, caddy for him for the week
Pre tournament photo shoot – Kevin Yu-Chun (Chinese Tapei), Nick Voke and Rayhan Thomas (India) overlooking Wellington City, NZ
NZ Golf Website – 25 October 2017
GO TIME AT THE ASIA-PACIFIC AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP
The time has come for 10 New Zealand amateurs to compete for their ticket to both The Masters and The Open at the 2017 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship starting tomorrow.
Hosted by the Royal Wellington Golf Club, 116 players will go head-to-head for the biggest prize in amateur golf with the chance to create history.
NEW ZEALAND TEAM – Nick Voke, Daniel Hillier, Ryan Chisnall, James Anstiss, Luke Brown, Denzel Ieremia, Mark Hutson, Kerry Mountcastle, Henry Spring and Charlie Hillier. All the players arrived in the capital to simply stunning weather and are ready to get things underway. After months of rain, the weather gods have shone on Upper Hutt this week and helped the course be at its very best for our guests from around the globe.
Nick Voke, who is our number ranked amateur proved why with his recent win at the Web.com qualifying series in Nebraska City two weeks ago. Voke finished with a final round 65 to win by one shot.
“It’s clear that everyone understands the magnitude of this event, I think the mission of this tournament is to improve grass roots golf,” said Voke.
This is the Aucklanders fourth year at this event and feels now is his time.
“If there was a New Zealand champion here this week it would be huge and that’s why we are here and we will put our best foot forward.”
The opening ceremony is set to light up the week with The Royal New Zealand Defence Force Black Falcons flying over the course at 5:30pm on Wednesday along with the traditional New Zealand welcome for the 120 golfers and many staff.
Broadcast to over 160 countries worldwide, Asian Tour Media will produce a high-definition broadcast, which includes three hours of live coverage each day. A 30-minute highlight show will also be created after the conclusion of the event, all of which makes the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship the most televised amateur golf tournament in the world.
NZ Golf Website – 26 October 2017
VOKE LEADING KIWI AS AUSSIE GOES LOW
Australia’s Shae Wools-Cobb has dominated the opening day of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship with an opening round of eight-under (63) to hold a four-shot advantage over leading Kiwi, Nick Voke.
On a picture perfect day at Royal Wellington Golf Club, Wools-Cobb took full advantage carding seven birdies and one eagle, which included a record breaking front nine of 29.
This made things challenging for the number one ranked New Zealand amateur to keep up as Voke carded a flawless round of four birdies and zero bogies to start his campaign in tied fourth alongside Sean Maruyama (JPN), Lloyd Jefferson Go (PHI) and Min Woo Lee (AUS).
“It was solid. If you’d said I’d shoot four-under at the start of the day I’d certainly take it. In round one you can go backwards and it’s quite hard to stay at the top,” said Voke.
The confident Kiwi seems in control of not only his game, but mentally as well.
“Confidence comes and goes and if you’re confident in your processes and how you approach the game the outcome will take care of itself. Even though I shot 67 I was happy with what I did and what I could control. If I do that every day I’ll be happy.”
NEW ZEALAND TEAM SCORES after day one:
Nick Voke -4
Kerry Mountcastle -2
James Anstiss -1
Daniel Hillier -1
Mark Hutson +3
Charlie Hillier +3
Ryan Chisnall +4
Denzel Ieremia +5
Luke Brown +6
Henry Spring +7
Wellington’s very own Kerry Mountcastle was the next best with a very impressive round of two-under par. His round included five birdies but he matched that with three bogeys to slow him down.
“It’s an awesome feeling and even better to see my name up there on these huge scoreboards,” said Mountcastle. “I can actually read my name on these ones.”
Nick & Shiv share a moment while Sir Bob Charles (far right) looks on
NZ Golf Website – 27 October 2017
AUSTRALIA LEAD BUT KIWIS IN TOUCH
Australia’s Min Woo Lee has stormed home finishing birdie, birdie, eagle to ensure Australia remain at the top of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship leaderboard after two rounds at Royal Wellington Golf Club.
Finishing a remarkable four-under through his last three holes saw Lee jump from tied fourth to now hold the outright lead, which was held by his roommate Shae Wools-Cobb overnight before he went three-over par today.
To excite local supporters, there is now two New Zealanders inside the top five with Wellington’s very own Kerry Mountcastle joining Nick Voke at three-under for the tournament.
In challenging afternoon conditions, Voke toiled throughout his round before back-to-back bogeys on 15 and 16 saw the lead Kiwi lose ground to shoot one-over. After recently winning on the Web.com qualifying series, it’s clear Voke knows that winning feeling and is still right in contention.
Mountcastle continued his impressive form to also be within striking distance heading into the weekend. After taking six weeks off work as an electrician to prepare for this event, he shot a second round of one-under par in front of friends and family.
“To have a group from Masterton come down today and join me was just awesome. It’s great having the support there,” said Mountcastle.
“It also helps knowing the course to know what the wind’s actually doing and what the best spots are to hit it in the wind, especially yesterday afternoon.”
Just one shot back from his fellow Kiwis is Queenstown’s James Anstiss who has gone under the radar this week. After returning from University in America for this event, his calm demeanour will have him in good stead ahead of moving day.
Northland’s Luke Brown started the day on the cutline of six-over before carding the lowest round of the New Zealanders today signing for a three-under total.
Sadly, the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship is now over for debutants Denzel Ieremia and Henry Spring who will leave Royal Wellington Golf Club with a wealth of experience.
Nick and his coach from Iowa State University, Andrew Tank who came down from the USA to watch a couple of days of the tournament
NZ Golf Website – 28 October 2017
MOUNTCASTLE A CHANCE FOR THE MASTERS & OPEN
China’s Yuxin Lin has claimed the lead at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship to enjoy a one-shot advantage at eight-under par, while Masterton’s Kerry Mountcastle is just four shots behind entering the final round tomorrow.
A chance to play in the Masters Tournament and The Open Championship is just 18 holes away for one lucky player and Mountcastle who finished one-under today (70) will be hoping for all the luck he can get to make up the achievable deficit at Royal Wellington Golf Club.
It was a rollercoaster day for all New Zealand players in benign Wellington conditions, but it was Mountcastle’s chip in eagle, followed by a tap in birdie which raised anticipation around the club.
“It all just fell into place on 14 and I hit a nice chip which dropped in for eagle. Then on 15 I had a terrible lie, but luckily I chunked it up there and it ran out to just a foot away,” said an overly calm Mountcastle.
The moment doesn’t seem too big for the full-time sparkie who has taken six weeks off work to focus on focus on golf.
“It was a good day and I’m enjoying the occasion, but to then realise I was right up there was awesome, so I will go for it and see where I can get tomorrow.”
New Zealand’s leading amateur Nick Voke pulled the largest galleries of the day as he made his way to six-under for the tournament with four front nine birdies including a chip in to be just one shot behind at the turn.
The dream of a local winner was becoming a reality before he had an afternoon to forget making five back nine bogies for card a two-over (73) and bail out of contention.
With a tournament score of one-under he now joins a huddle of Kiwis with James Anstiss also in a tie for 11th and Daniel Hillier one better at two-under.
Hillier was turning heads early after making four birdies in his opening four holes, but couldn’t continue this hot streak, finishing with a three-under (68) to be in a tie for ninth.
NZ Golf Website – 29 October 2017
AMAZING FINISH EARNS YUXIN LIN A PLACE IN HISTORY
China’s Yuxin Lin has finished birdie, eagle to win the 2017 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in style at Royal Wellington Golf Club this afternoon
Lin completed his week with a three-shot margin over fellow countryman Andy Zhang with rounds of 69, 67, 69 and an impressive 65 to earn an invitation to The Masters Tournament and The 147th Open Championship.
In front of thousands of local golf fans surrounding the 18th green, he completed the tournament in perfect fashion after his 5-iron from 216 yards was pin point (five feet) to then knock in his eagle putt.
“I was going to hit my four-iron, but I thought it might roll over the green. I thought I was a bit short, but it turned out pretty good,” grinned the Beijing born Lin.
“I’m very happy I got the chance to win this event and play in two Majors. I’m very proud of myself and it means a lot to be playing in the Masters and The Open next year.”
This victory draws parallels to Sir Bob Charles who achieved his first New Zealand Open win at Royal Wellington back in 1954 as a teenager and also a left hander.
Wellington’s Daniel Hillier has ended the week as leading amateur with a total of five-under par to finish in a tie for sixth. His fellow representative Kerry Mountcastle finished a week he won’t forget just one shot back of Hillier.
Although there wasn’t a Kiwi winner this afternoon, they certainly didn’t give up with notable performances from Ryan Chisnall and Charlie Hillier who both shot rounds of four-under (67).
Nick Voke was in the action for the majority of the event, both on and off the course but had a challenging weekend to finish three-under and tied tenth.
“What an incredible week, to have such a prestigious tournament here in New Zealand was incredible, not only for myself but for the team. The crowds were amazing and words cannot describe what an amazing week this has been,” said Voke.
This week has been one to remember in New Zealand Golf history with The Masters Tournament, The Open, Asia-Pacific Golf Federation and Royal Wellington Golf Club all playing a vital part in the success and exposure it has created for golf in this country.
Nick and his teammate, James Anstiss, who he played in the final round with
AAC Website – 29 October 2017
LIN YUXIN EAGLES 18, SHOOTS 65 TO WIN ASIA-PACIFIC AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP
China’s Lin Yuxin, 17, won the ninth Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship on Sunday at Royal Wellington Golf Club to secure spots in the 2018 Masters Tournament and The 147th Open at Carnoustie. In front of large crowds, the left-hander birdied the 17th hole and eagled 18 to card a six-under-par 65 and finish 14-under, three ahead of compatriot Andy Zhang (67), who was rewarded with a place in The Open Qualifying Series.
Yuan Yechun (68) and Australia’s Min Woo Lee (71) – younger brother of LPGA star Minjee Lee – shared third place at seven-under, one ahead of 2015 champion Jin Cheng (65), also of China.
The Beijing-based Lin, who turned 17 on October 12, is the third Chinese player to win the championship following victories by Guan Tianlang in 2012, aged 14, and Jin, who was 17 when he won.
“I’m very, very happy I got the chance to win this event and play two majors,” said Lin, who trailed Zhang for much of the round. “I’m very proud of myself. It means a lot to me to play in the Masters and The Open next year. It’s a great experience.”
“Andy played really solid today,” Lin said. “He didn’t make a single mistake until 15. His iron shots were really good and he made a lot of putts. I actually thought it might not be my day, but I had a good finish.
“I was just trying to stay aggressive and hit as many drivers as I could. Even though I wasn’t playing that well for 12 holes, I still stuck with that plan. Andy is a very steady player, but I had to stay aggressive and get birdies.”
Lin started the day at eight-under, one ahead of playing partners Lee and Zhang, China’s top-ranked amateur. And it was Zhang, the 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Florida, who quickly took control with birdies at one and three to take the lead, which he held for much of the round.
Both Zhang and Lin birdied the par-five fourth, and the two Beijing-born Chinese players also birdied six to move to 11-under and 10-under, respectively. Lin birdied eight but from the 10th went bogey-birdie-bogey to stay one behind after 12 holes.
Zhang doubled his lead with a birdie at 13, but Lin bounced back with a crucial birdie at the next hole. When Zhang bogeyed 15, the pair drew even at 11-under and remained level with two holes to play. That’s when Lin’s power game and self-confidence came into play.
The solidly built teen drove the green at the 361-yard, par-four 17th to set up a tap-in birdie. On the par-five 18th, he smashed his drive down the middle of the fairway then watched as his stunning five-iron from 216 yards landed just six feet from the flag, holing the putt for an eagle three and punching the air in victory.
“I was definitely trying to drive it on the green at 17 and put some pressure on Andy,” Lin said. “I hit a really good drive pin high so I was pretty satisfied.
“On 18, I was going to hit a four-iron because it was a bit into the wind, but then I thought it might roll over the green, so I hit a five. I thought it was a bit short but it turned out that it was pretty good.”
Zhang, who competed in the U.S. Open at the age of 14, was playing with Lin for the first time in competition and was full of praise for his younger compatriot.
“For Lin Yuxin to finish three-three-three and to match the course record, you can’t really argue with that,” said Zhang, who has been based in Florida since he was 10. “He played very well and I needed my best but I didn’t have my absolute best.” Zhang explained. “The next generation is coming up and China will be a big country up there.”
Two years after winning the title in Hong Kong, Jin – who played in last year’s Masters Tournament – was among Lin’s teammates congratulating the champion on the 18th green.
“He’s going to be the third amateur to represent China at Augusta National (and the first to play in The Open), and it’s going to be a great honor for our country,” said Jin. “Lin’s a really good junior golfer and as he grows up he’s getting better and better. He’s going to be a great player.”
Nick Voke, New Zealand’s top-ranked amateur, carded a 69 to finish three-under and was among four locals to finish in the top 10.
“What an absolutely incredible week, right from the start,” Voke said. “Words can’t do justice to how good it was. I was talking to Frank Nobilo last night and we were talking about playing in your home country, playing in front of all the crowds, and having such a prestigious event come here. It was incredible, not only for myself and the team, but for the country. You should have seen the crowds out there today and yesterday. Words can’t describe it.”
Royal Wellington’s Daniel Hiller was New Zealand’s top finisher, sharing sixth place at five-under with Chinese Taipei’s Yu Chun-an and Australia’s Shae Wools-Cobb. Kerry Mountcastle, also a Royal Wellington member, was alone in ninth at four-under.
The Champion – Lin Yuxin
The New Zealand Team – Mark Hutson, Luke Brown, James Anstiss, Charlie Hillier, Henry Spring, Kerry Mountcastle, Nick Voke, Ryan Chisnall, Daniel Hillier and Denzel Ieremia
The Kiwi boys had a bit of fun on day three pretending to play cricket and catch Min Woo Lee from Australia out : )
Royal Wellington Golf Club
The club was first established in 1895 at Miramar, until it experienced difficulties in renewing its lease in 1904. The Barton family of Trentham and Wairarapa owned extensive land in the Heretaunga area in the Upper Hutt Valley and offered to sell the club 48.5 hectares of their estate. This offer was accepted in a Club meeting on 20 November 1906 and subsequently much of the land was cleared and marshes drained to construct the rudimentary course. Some club members donated trees and shrubs in these early years.
By 1908 the club had completed its moved to Heretaunga and an 18-hole course had been completed along with a tennis court, croquet and putting green. It’s historic and elegant clubhouse was designed by architects Crichton and MacKay. The club was opened in a ceremony on 25 April 1908, by Joseph Ward, Prime Minister and president of the club. The course was expanded from 18 to 27 holes in 1972-73. The present championship course was redesigned by Greg Turner and Scott Macpherson and opened in 2013. There is also a nine-hole Terrace course, which takes in some of the most scenic parts of the club’s property.
Seven New Zealand Opens have been held at Heretaunga, the first in 1912, followed by 1932, 1954, 1976, 1981, 1987 and most recently in 1995, when Australian Lucas Parsons was the winner of the sixth and last open held at the club. In 2004, to commemorate the 250th year of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth consented on 10 June 2004 that the club should be known as Royal Wellington Golf Club. This was a culmination of a century or more of sustained contact with other like-minded clubs in many parts of the world. Throughout its history, the club has stayed close to the traditions established during its foundation but also aimed to be progressive and responsive to the way the game of golf changes.