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The Loop

Billy Payne's Asian outreach

February 15, 2009

Augusta Chronicle columnist Scott Michaux reports today that Billy Payne, the Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters, is in Hong Kong as part of his continuing mission to help grow the game in general and specifically in Asia.

Payne and the Royal & Ancient have a joint initiative about which they are to make an announcement on Monday. Michaux writes:

"While specifics of the latest initiative won't be revealed until the news conference. Payne tipped his hand to one idea before the 2008 Masters when he suggested that new opportunities for amateurs to gain invitation into the field of the season's first major championship would likely be made available in the emerging golf market of Asia.

"'There remains, we believe, an untapped opportunity in Asia and other parts of the world where amateur golf has its greatest growth potential,' Payne said in April."

Payne already has extended an invitation to Ryo Ishikawa, a 17-year-old professional from Japan, to play in the Masters this year.

-- John Strege