01 Sep 2022 | Amateur golf |

Amateur stars confirmed for Asia-Pacific assignment

by Dane Heverin

Australia's 13 representatives for the Asia-Pacific Amateur in Thailand.

The Australian team for this year’s Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship and Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific in Thailand has been chosen and the squad is full of firepower.

Australian World Amateur Team Championships representatives Connor McKinney, Hayden Hopewell and Harrison Crowe are joined by Stanford University star Karl Vilips, two-time Australian Junior Amateur champion Jeffrey Guan, 2019 Junior Presidents Cup representative Joshua Greer and 2019 US Mid-Amateur champion Lukas Michel on the men’s team.

The women’s team also consists of the three World Amateur Team Championships representatives in Kirsten Rudgeley, Kelsey Bennett and Maddison Hinson-Tolchard, while Karrie Webb scholarship recipient Caitlin Peirce, Australian Amateur runner-up Justice Bosio and 15-year-old sensation Sarah Hammett have all been selected.

“The 13 players chosen to represent Australia form a very strong group and we’re excited about their prospects on the international stage,” said Brad James, Golf Australia’s General Manager High Performance.

“A number of our players have taken some significant strides this year by performing strongly in tournaments at home and overseas, and representing their country again with the opportunity to book their ticket to two major championships is another great step in their development.

“The younger players also bring a nice balance to the squad as they begin to taste what competing internationally is all about, and push to get their names high on leaderboards.”

The winner of the men’s event receives an invitation to The Masters and The Open Championship, while the women’s champion earns a spot in the field at the AIG Women’s Open and the Evian Championship, as well as an exemption for the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

Both tournaments are 72-holes of stroke play with the men’s to be held at Amata Spring Country Club - which has hosted DP World Tour, Asian Tour and LPGA Tour events previously - from October 27-30 and the women’s will be staged at Siam Country Club - host venue of the annual LPGA Thailand - from November 3-6.

Australia’s most recent winner is Curtis Luck, who triumphed in South Korea in 2016, and Antonio Murdaca - at Royal Melbourne in 2014 - is the only other Australian to have won an Asia-Pacific crown.

New South Wales pair Harrison Crowe and Kelsey Bennett have also been invited to play in the Japan Open Golf Championship (October 20-23) and the Japan Women’s Golf Open Championship (September 29-October 2) respectively in the lead-up to representing their country.

Player bios

Connor McKinney

The 2022 Australian Amateur champion has had a stellar year. In addition to his national title, he won the South Australian Amateur Classic and shined on the big stage in June by winning the prestigious St Andrews Links Trophy with a final round of 65 at the Old Course. Currently ranked 27th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, the West Australian is representing his country at the World Amateur Team Championships in Paris this week.

Kirsten Rudgeley

The world No. 36, Australia’s highest-ranked female amateur, is a proven performer on the international stage with impressive showings at the Queen Sirikit Cup and the Augusta National Women’s Amateur earlier this year complementing her two victories in the United Kingdom in 2021. The West Australian, who represented Australia at the World Amateur Team Championships last week, missed this event last year due to travel restrictions and will be among the contenders for the title.

Hayden Hopewell

Another West Australian whose star has risen this year with Hopewell coming runner-up twice on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia, going undefeated at the Australian Interstate Teams Matches, finishing ninth at the European Amateur Championship and making the Round of 16 at the US Amateur. The world No. 33 is also in action in Paris at the moment.

Kelsey Bennett

Runner-up in Abu Dhabi last year, Bennett will be determined to go one better this time around. She is well-placed to do so after shining in international competition this year. Bennett finished third at the Australian Amateur, reached the quarter-finals of The Women's Amateur Championship and the Round of 16 at the US Women’s Amateur, and represented Australia at the World Amateur Team Championships.

Harrison Crowe

Crowe was superb during the home season as he bested the professionals to win the NSW Open, as well as winning the Australian Master of the Amateurs and the NSW Amateur. The world No. 49 has been touring the northern hemisphere during the Australian winter and he is currently competing in Paris alongside McKinney and Hopewell.

Maddison Hinson-Tolchard

Oklahoma State University student has been a consistent performer in collegiate golf in 2022 highlighted by a win at the NCAA Stillwater Regional. The West Australian was impressive at the US Amateur reaching the Round of 32 and she also represented her country at the World Amateur Teams Championship.        

Karl Vilips

Another US-based Australian, the Stanford University student is no stranger to international competition. The West Australian was a member of the International Team for the 2019 Junior Presidents Cup and he won gold at the Youth Olympics in 2018. He has played this event once prior, when he came eighth in 2019.

Caitlin Peirce

The Karrie Webb scholarship recipient alongside Rudgeley, stormed into the top echelon of female amateur golfers in Australia with a stunning home season that included three victories and four other top-fives. The South Australian represented her country for the first time at the Queen Sirikit Cup and has been touring the United States during the winter, including spending a week with seven-time major champion Webb.

Jeffrey Guan

The two-time Australian Junior Amateur champion is one of the rising stars of Australian Golf and recently made the quarter-finals of the US Junior Amateur Championship. The Sydneysider has dominated junior competition, including winning the UNIQLO / Adam Scott Junior Championship in California, and he matched it with the professionals at the WA Open earlier in the year when he came sixth. 

Justice Bosio

Like Guan, Bosio is fresh off making the quarter-finals of the US Girls’ Junior Championship and her name has regularly been high on junior leaderboards. The Queenslander produced an impressive home season with a runner-up finish at the Australian Amateur as well as mixing it with the professionals by coming tenth at the Vic Open and tied sixth at the Ladies European Tour’s Australian Women’s Classic Bonville.

Joshua Greer

Greer was Vilips' teammate at the 2019 Junior Presidents Cup and the West Australian has consistently thrived on the international stage. During the Australian winter, he has regularly returned to his native Scotland where he has performed solidly in the St Andrews Links Trophy and last home season he chalked up five top-tens.

Sarah Hammett

The youngest member of the team, 15-year-old Hammett announced her with an incredible past twelve months that have included six victories, but her biggest statement came in finishing tied sixth and eighth at the Ladies European Tour’s Australian Women’s Classic Bonville and Women’s NSW Open. The Queenslander was also runner-up at the Australian Junior Amateur and seventh at the Australian Amateur.

Lukas Michel

The most experienced member of the team played in this tournament last year and won the US Mid-Amateur in 2019. The Victorian’s playing opportunities have been limited this year since he has turned his focus more to working in golf course design - he has a Masters degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Melbourne - but he did finish top-ten at the Australian Master of the Amateurs in January.

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