SHENZHEN, China (AP) — South Korea’s Han Chang-won won the inaugural Asian Amateur Championship by five strokes Sunday to earn a spot in the Masters.
The 17-year-old Han closed with a 2-under 70 at Mission Hills, building his lead by as many as six shots on the back that allowed him no stress even as he made three bogeys over the last five holes. He finished at 12-under 276.
“I was leading by so many shots when I got to the 18th green, so I was able to make the final putt in a very relaxed way,” Han said. “However, I am going to the Masters Tournament now, and I was thinking my dream was going to be fulfilled when I holed it.”
Han’s victory also makes him exempt into the final stage of British Open qualifying.
South Korea’s Eric Chun (73) was second at 7-under 281, one shot ahead of Kim Meen-whee (71), Peter Spearman-Burn (72) and Jordan Sherratt (73).
The Asian Amateur Championship was sponsored in part by Augusta National Golf Club and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club as a way to help spur grow in golf’s fastest growing market.
The inaugural event drew a 116-man field from 30 countries in the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation.
It capped a big year for golf in South Korea, including Y.E. Yang rallying at the PGA Championship to beat Tiger Woods in the final major of the year and 17-year-old Beyong-Hun An becoming the youngest winner of the U.S. Amateur this summer at Southern Hills.
All three will be at Augusta National.
“I hope my win is going to produce lots of golfers in Korea that want to come here to the Asian Amateur,” Han said. “They will set a goal, practice harder, harder and harder. Now that I have done it and will go to the Masters, it will impact Korean golf very positively.”
Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said the Asian Amateur already reached its goal of creating golfing heroes in Asia.
“Today, the dream of Han Chang-won was realized,” Payne said. “But more importantly, throughout Asia this week, thousands of dreams were born.”