Coach spurs Aussie's surge to top

Australia's Lee Min Woo, 19, used a late flurry (playing the last three holes in four under) to take a one-stroke lead on seven-under 135 halfway through the tournament in New Zealand.
Australia's Lee Min Woo, 19, used a late flurry (playing the last three holes in four under) to take a one-stroke lead on seven-under 135 halfway through the tournament in New Zealand.PHOTO: ASIA-PACIFIC AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP

His frustration boiling over after missing a short par putt on the 300-metre 15th, a pep talk from his coach Ritchie Smith was just the jolt Lee Min Woo needed during yesterday's Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship second round.

The 19-year-old Australian responded with back-to-back birdies before draining a 20m eagle putt on the 497m, par-five 18th to shoot a three-under 68 and take the halfway lead on seven-under 135.

He said: "We were struggling a little bit before that, feeling a little low, but he (Smith) gave me a kick-on. We looked at the leaderboard and I was only a few back, and he said, 'You know, just a couple more birdies can get you in the lead'.

"I just used his words and it turned out well."

China's Lin Yuxin also had a spectacular finish as he holed out from 80m for an eagle on the closing hole. The 17-year-old from Beijing shot a 67 and is second on 136. He said: "I'm hitting well, putting well, chipping well so I'm pretty confident right now."

Overnight leader Shae Wools-Cob, another Australian, had opened with a 63 but struggled to maintain that form. He shot 74, which included four bogeys on the back nine, and was third on 137.

Lee's impressive comeback at the Royal Wellington Golf Club was unsurprising given his pedigree.

His older sister Minjee, 21, is a three-time winner on the LPGA Tour. And he became the first Australian to win the US Junior Amateur Championship last year and even outdrove compatriot and former world No. 1 Jason Day in a long-drive competition during a junior clinic in April.

Lee said: "I've struggled throughout the year, but I just sorted out a few things with my swing, and my ball-striking off the tee is just better than usual."

Only two of Singapore's six-member team survived the 148 cut which reduced the field from 116 to 62 golfers. Gregory Foo (70, 144) and Abdul Hadi (74, 145) progressed to the weekend but Jesse Yap (70, 149), Joshou Shou (72, 149), Low Wee Jin (76, 150) and Joshua Ho (75, 152) all missed out.

Foo, who closed with consecutive birdies, said: "I felt like I got some good momentum with the birdies and I'm hitting the ball better than yesterday too.

"I think I can go out tomorrow morning and shoot a good score."

ASIA-PACIFIC AMATEUR C'SHIP

Day 3: Singtel TV Ch115 & StarHub Ch209, 6.30am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2017, with the headline 'Coach spurs Aussie's surge to top'. Print Edition | Subscribe