Golf: Last-pitch eagle sends Aussie David Micheluzzi top of Asia-Pacific Amateur C'ship leaderboard with opening 64

David Micheluzzi pitched in for eagle on the par-four, 390m 18th to seize sole possession of the lead on six-under 64.
David Micheluzzi pitched in for eagle on the par-four, 390m 18th to seize sole possession of the lead on six-under 64.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

SINGAPORE - With just one hole to go for the final flight, the first round of the 10th Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) looked set for a four-way tie for the lead on Thursday (Oct 4).

But David Micheluzzi had other ideas on Sentosa Golf Club's 6,262m New Tanjong Course, as the Australian pitched in for a superb eagle on the par-four, 390m 18th hole to seize sole possession of the lead on six-under 64.

The 22-year-old's face lit up after he was told he had also set a course record with his round.

"Oh really? That's sweet! I've been working on my pitching since last week, but that was just a perfect three-quarter shot so I'm pretty pleased," said the world amateur No. 13.

"It's probably one of the best shots I've made. I got a hole-in-one on a par four when I was 15, but I didn't see the ball go in then."

The trio of Lloyd Jefferson Go (the Philippines), Jin Cheng (China) and Liu Yung-hua (Chinese Taipei) are one stroke behind. Go was on seven under before being pegged back by two bogeys in his last two holes.

Micheluzzi represented Australia at last month's World Amateur Team Championship in Ireland and also finished runner-up at the Australian Amateur Championship in January. He is playing in his first AAC.

His feat was more impressive considering he played in the afternoon, when the conditions were more humid before a short spell of rain provided some reprieve. Nine of the top 12 scores were recorded in the morning.

He said: "It was definitely hot but, after the rain came, I thought it became quite pleasant and a really nice afternoon overall."

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.

Last year's champion and runner-up Lin Yuxin and Andy Zhang - both from China - carded matching 69s.

Meanwhile, the Singaporean trio of Low Wee Jin, Abdul Hadi and Gregory Foo each shot a 70 to lie tied for 30th. Foo, 24, was two over at the turn after a wobble on the ninth, but managed to steady the ship with three birdies, including one at the 18th.

It was a similar story for 25-year-old Low, who recovered from a bogey followed by a triple bogey on his sixth and seventh holes with a blemish-free back nine.

Said Foo, who is the top-ranked amateur at No. 101 among six Singaporean representatives: "I hit a bad shot on the ninth and ended up making double bogey. But that turned out to be a good reminder for me to just dig deep and get into the flow of the game."

The Republic's best performance at the AAC came in 2010, when Choo Tze Huang tied for seventh in Japan. Hadi, 23, was Singapore's top finisher last year in Wellington with a joint-17th finish.