Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Dubai-based Arjun Gupta will spearhead the Indian challange at the 12th Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) slated at the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, from 3-6 November.
Arjun ranked 202nd in World amateur rankings, he has the advantage of playing at a course, where he has been a regular since he is based in the UAE.
Interestingly the best finish by an Indian at the AAC was also by a Dubai-based India, Rayhan Thomas, who finished runner-up in 2018. So, if Arjun is hoping to go one better than Thomas, he will need to upset some of the biggest names in amateur golf.
The other five Indians qualified for the AAC are 18-year-old Mysorean Aryan Roopa Anand, Pune lad, Rohan Dhole Patil, 21-year-old Panipat golfer, Shubham Jaglan, who is now planning to play in US, 16-year-old Hyderabad golfer, Milind Soni, and 20-year-old Bengalurean Akshay Neranjan.
The 17-year-old Arjun, born and raised in Dubai, where his parents are based, has a unique edge over the rest of the field. He has the best local knowledge of the field on how to tackle the course at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, where he has played often.
Arjun won the Abu Dhabi Amateur Championship in December last year, which earned him a place in the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. He also participated in the U.S. Junior Amateurs this year and reached the round of 16.
The Asia-Pacific Amateurs, which is one of the best-known amateur events, which offers a passage to the Masters at the Augusta National and The Open in UK, will also have some of the world’s leading young stars.
Leading them are Japan’s Keita Nakajima and China’s Yuxin Lin are two of the most compelling stories at this year’s event.
Nakajima will be entering the championship as the reigning No. 1 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), while the two-time AAC champion Lin aims to surpass 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama (2010, 11) and become the first player to win the title three times.
The 21-year-old becomes only the fourth active WAGR No. 1 player to compete in the AAC, joining Matsuyama, Japan’s Takumi Kanaya, and Australia’s Curtis Luck. He took over as the top-ranked amateur in the world when Kanaya – his compatriot, best friend, and 2018 AAC champion – turned professional.