Duo turn up the heat

China's Jin Cheng, the 2015 winner, getting out of a bunker yesterday in the second round of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at Sentosa Golf Club.
China's Jin Cheng, the 2015 winner, getting out of a bunker yesterday in the second round of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at Sentosa Golf Club.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

Philippines' Go and China's Jin lead by one on 132, second-lowest AAC halfway total

The dripping sweat, tan lines and sunburnt faces. The golfers at the 10th Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) had nowhere to hide from the sweltering conditions but the early pacesetters hardly wilted under the heat yesterday.

Filipino Lloyd Jefferson Go and China's Jin Cheng fired three-under 67s in the second round at Sentosa Golf Club's New Tanjong Course to grab a share of the halfway lead on eight-under 132. Both had opened with 65s.

The 36-hole total is bettered only by the 130 recorded by Jin and compatriot Guan Tianlang in 2015 and 2012 respectively. Both went on to win the tournament.

Go had five birdies to go with two bogeys in a topsy-turvy round. Having his father Charlie on the bag helped steady the ship, he said.

"I hit some errant shots today, but managed to pull off some par saves and even a bogey save, so those were key," said the 23-year-old, whose younger sister Lois Kaye was in the Philippine women's team that won the Asian Games gold in August.

"Having a familiar face on the bag whom I feel comfortable with was nice and I'm glad my dad is here watching and caddying for me."

The AAC winner will earn entry to two of golf's four Majors next year, the Masters at Augusta and The Open Championship at Royal Portrush. The runner-up gets a spot in The Open Qualifying Series.

Jin, 20, knows better than most of the field what is at stake, having played at Augusta in 2016 after his AAC win in 2015.

"I had a perfect ending to my Masters experience in 2016. I missed the cut, but made an incredible birdie on the last hole," said the Asiad bronze medallist.

"So of course there's a lot of motivation to get back in, but I can't be too anxious now because there's still a lot of golf left to be played."

China's Bai Zheng Kai (66-67) and South Korea's Ha Jin-bo (66-67) lie one shot back on 133, with the Thais Sadom Kaewkanjana (68-66) and K.K. Limbhasut (66-68) rounding out the top six on 134. First-round leader David Micheluzzi of Australia shot a 71 to fall back to joint-seventh on 135.

Five Singaporeans, led by Gregory Foo (139), made the six-over 146 cut, the most since six did so when the Republic last hosted the tournament in 2011.

Lucius Toh's hopes of making the weekend play looked all but over after an opening 80, but he bounced back with a 66 yesterday to make the cut right on the line.

Said the 21-year-old: "I knew I would need a pretty low score today - five under was my goal - if I wanted to play during the weekend. That really gave me no choice but to be confident and trust in my ability."

Admission to the AAC is free.

ASIA-PACIFIC AMATEUR C'SHIP

Day 3: Singtel TV Ch114 & StarHub Ch208, noon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2018, with the headline 'Duo turn up the heat'. Print Edition | Subscribe