SINGAPORE - The dripping perspiration, tan lines and sunburnt faces were testament to the scorching conditions faced by the golfers at the 10th Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC), but the early pacesetters hardly wilted under the heat.
Filipino Lloyd Jefferson Go and China's Jin Cheng fired matching three-under 67s in the second round at Sentosa Golf Club's par-70 New Tanjong Course on Friday (Oct 5) to grab a share of the halfway lead on eight-under 132. Both had opened with 65s on Thursday.
It is the second-lowest 36-hole total in AAC history, 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 is also a golfer and was part of the women's team that won 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 will gain a spot in The Open Qualifying Series.
Jin 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 20-year-old Asian Games 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 Thai pair of 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 one-over 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 a first-round 80, but he bounced back in style with a superb four-under 66 on Friday to make the cut right on the line.
"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," said the 21-year-old.
Admission is free to the AAC, which ends on Sunday. The tournament will be held in Shanghai, China next year.