MELBOURNE, Australia – Antonio Murdaca, 19, became the first Australian to win the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, as the Adelaide resident bested the field by seven strokes at Royal Melbourne Golf Club on Oct. 26.
With his victory, Murdaca earned an invitation to the 2015 Masters Tournament as well as a likely exemption into next year’s U.S. Amateur at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club. He will also likely be exempt from local qualifying for next year’s U.S. Open and earns a spot in Final International Qualifying for the 2015 British Open.
All exemptions for 2015 USGA championships will be finalized in February during the Association’s Annual Meeting.
The Asia-Pacific Amateur is conducted by the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation, The R&A and Augusta National Golf Club. This was the first time the 6-year-old competition had been staged in Australia. Golfers from Korea, Japan and the People’s Republic of China had previously claimed the title, including 14-year-old Tianlang Guan, of China, in 2012.
Murdaca started the final round of the 72-hole, stroke-play competition with an eight-stroke advantage and his steady 1-under 71 gave the two-time Australian junior champion a record margin of victory. Murdaca, who compiled 21 birdies and an eagle on the 7,059-yard layout, finished at 13-under 275.
Horikawa Mikumu, of Japan, carded a final-round 69 to edge Australian Todd Sinnott for second place. Sinnott, who carded a final-round 71, finished at 5-under 283.
Two-time U.S. Junior Amateur competitor Ryan Ruffels, 16, of Australia, carded a final-round 68 to finish fourth at 3-under 285, while a pair of Chinese golfers – 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur quarterfinalist Zecheng Dou and Guan – shared fifth position with two-time U.S. Open qualifier Cheng-Tsung Pan, of Chinese Taipei, at 286.
“It's special,”' said Murdaca, who entered the championship at No. 168 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking™. “It's a dream that's come true for me now. I always wanted to play in the Masters and it's so exciting now knowing I've got a spot in there, and also in the Qualifying Series for The Open at St Andrews.''
U.S. Amateur champion Gunn Yang, of Korea, recovered from an opening-round 81 to finish tied for 42nd at 13-over 301.
The 2015 Asia-Pacific Amateur will be conducted Oct. 1-4 at The Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club in Hong Kong.