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ASIA-PACIFIC SPOILS: Augusta National and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club were behind the creation of the Asia-Pacific Amateur. The perks they offer are different.

The winner gets an invitation to the Masters, but only a spot in the final stage of qualifying for the British Open. With the changes to Open qualifying, that means Lee Chang-woo will be exempt into a tournament in Thailand where he will try to be among the top three finishers not already eligible.

“I want to see that maybe the winner of this Asian Amateur Championship can play directly over there as they can play at the Masters,” said Kwang Soo Hur, president of the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation.

Perhaps that day is coming.

The Masters has the smallest field among majors _ fewer than 100 players _ and has room for an extra amateur. The Open is a 156-man field, with an alternate list. Plus, it was hard to predict the quality of the competition when this event began five years ago. The previous three winners all made the cut at Augusta National.

“It’s become very, very evident from the champions that have been produced through this championship that they are of a world-class standard, and I think this is something that we and the R&A will continue to consider,” R&A chairman Wilson Sibbett said last week. “We haven’t a plan as yet for direct entry, and so at the moment, it would still be through qualifying. But it may well be that in the future, that may change.

“But we do recognize that the standard is extremely high, and the evidence from last year at the Masters was a very clear indicator that in a world calibration, these golfers are competitive and make the cut.”

The British Open has exemptions for the British Amateur, U.S. Amateur and European Amateur champions. The Masters offers six amateur exemptions _ the winner and runner-up of the U.S. Amateur, and the winners of the British Amateur, Asia-Pacific Amateur, U.S. Amateur Public Links and U.S. Mid-Amateur.

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JASON’S TRAVELS: Jason Dufner has been traveling the world before anyone knew who he was.

The PGA champion first went to Australia for a Nationwide Tour event. He played a Tour de las Americas event in South America. He was the “other American” who received a sponsor’s exemption to the Australian Masters in 2009 when record crowds watched Tiger Woods win at Kingston Heath.

“I’ve always wanted to go play different places in the world,” Dufner said Tuesday at the HSBC Champions. “Some of the guys I looked up were world players _ Gary Player, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, guys like that. I think it’s important for the game of golf. And now that I’m a higher-ranked player, it would be selfish for me not to do it. The game needs us to play more.”

Dufner even is contemplating European Tour membership for next year, though it might be too much on his plate.

He already plays two events in the Middle East. He can count the four majors and four World Golf Championships. The problem might be finding two more events in continental Europe.

“I’ve been kicking around the idea,” he said. “It’s just figuring out what events might fit and what might not.”

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