Hideki Matsuyama enjoyed his experience at this year’s Masters so much that he decided he wanted to play again next year. The Japanese player will do just that after winning the Asian Amateur Championship for the second successive year.
Matsuyama returned a closing five-under-par 67 at Singapore Island Country Club to post an 18-under total of 270, a new 72-hole tournament low. The win earns him another invitation to the Masters and an exemption into International Final Qualifying for the 2012 Open Championship.
Matsuyama finished 27th at this year’s Masters, the only amateur to make the cut. Needless to say, he entered this year’s Asian Amateur as one of the players to beat.
After 36 holes it appeared Matsuyama might miss out on another trip to Augusta National. He trailed New Zealand’s Ben Campbell by five shots. However, Matsuyama did not make a bogey over the final two rounds, returning scores of 65 and 67 to go with earlier scores of 67 and 71.
Campbell began the final round with a one-shot lead on Matsuyama, but couldn’t hole enough putts to keep the Japanese player at bay. The New Zealander finished with a 2-under-par 70 to finish third on 16-under. Soo-min Lee of Korea finished second after a closing 64. Australia's Cameron Smith, the current Australian Boys Amateur champion, was fourth.
The win solidifies Matsuyama’s status as the world’s fourth best amateur. Campbell improves his world ranking by 13 places to 30th. Lee goes to world number 282 from 667th, while Smith improves his ranking five places to 97th.
Germany’s Stephan Jaeger won the Golfweek Conference Challenge at Spirit Hollow Golf Club in Burlington, Iowa. Jaeger, who plays for the University of Chattanooga, returned rounds of 67, 69 and a closing 73 for a 7-under-par total of 209 and his second college victory. The resident of Munich, Germany, moves to 69th on this week’s WAGR table, an improvement of 44 places.
Finland’s Sofia Hoglund made a pretty good first impression on the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking. She was unranked before this week, but takes her place at world number 2181 thanks to her first college golf victory.
The University of New Mexico student returned rounds of 71, 68 and a nervous closing round of 77 for a three-under-par total of 216 to win the 32nd Branch Law Firm Dick McGuire Invitational on the University of New Mexico Championship Course in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Hoglund began the final round with a two-shot advantage over the field but only made one birdie. That came on the 17th hole when she drained a 35-foot putt. It proved crucial. The 20-year-old from Kokkola, Finland, finished one shot ahead of Hayley Davis of Baylor University to capture her first college victory.
The 5ft 6in Finn is in her second year at New Mexico. Nothing in her first year suggested she would win so early in her second season. She only played five tournaments last year with a stroke average of 81.71 and a low round of 75.
Davis takes comfort in moving into the world top 50 thanks to her runner-up finish. The English player moves 62 places to world number 45.
Erica Popson makes the most dramatic move in this week’s top 10. The University of Tennessee player moves three places on this week’s World Amateur Golf Ranking to world number three. Popson, from Orlando, Florida, began the college season with second place in the Cougar Classic, and now sits just behind New Zealanders Lydia Ko and Cecilia Cho, the world’s number one and two players respectively, on the world pecking order.