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Matsuyama repeats as Asian Amateur champion

Hideki Matsuyama, 2011 Asian Amateur Championship
Ray Chua/AP
Hideki Matsuyama earned a spot in the 2012 Masters, plus an exemption into the final stage of qualifying for the British Open.

SINGAPORE (AP) — Hideki Matsuyama of Japan played his final 42 holes without a bogey Sunday and closed with a 5-under 67 to win the Asian Amateur Championship for the second straight year, earning another invitation to Augusta National to play in the Masters.

Matsuyama never trailed after the first hole at The Singapore Island Country Club. He had to make par on the 605-yard closing hole for a one-shot victory over Lee Soo-min, who birdied the last hole for a tournament-best 64.

A year ago, Matsuyama won by five shots. He was more nervous this time, knowing what was at stake.

"At last year's Asian Amateur Championship, I was able to enjoy the tournament because it was my first time and I did not have a lot of pressure," said Matsuyama, a 19-year-old student at Tohoku Fukushi University in Sendai, which caught the brunt of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. "But this time, since I knew that I had to win to play Augusta again, it was extra pressure for me and it is something I've never been through before.

"I think it was because I wanted so badly to go back to play Augusta again."

Matsuyama tied for 27th at the Masters this year, the only amateur to make the cut.

The Japanese amateur wasn't good enough to play in the Asian Amateur Championship when it began in 2009 under the guidance of Augusta National Golf Club and the Royal & Ancient. Matsuyama only got into the tournament last year because as the host country, Japan was allowed a maximum of 10 players.

Matsuyama now is No. 4 in the world amateur ranking, and making quite a name for himself.

This was the third straight amateur event Matsuyama won this year, following the Japan Collegiate Championship and the World University Championship.

Along with getting into the Masters, Matsuyama is exempt into the final stage of British Open qualifying next spring, which will be held in Thailand on the same course where the Asian Amateur Championship will be played in 2012.

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