Australian teenager Min Woo Lee produced a dramatic birdie-birdie-eagle finish to snatch the halfway lead of the ninth Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Wellington.
The 19-year-old from Perth carded a three-under 68 to reach seven-under 135 in the event that offers invitations to the Masters and British Open for the winner.
Lee holds a one-stroke lead over China’s Lin Yuxin who shot a four-under 67 in the morning to reach six-under 136 on the tricky Royal Wellington layout.
First-round leader Shae Wools-Cobb is two strokes behind Lee in outright third. The Queenslander carded a lacklustre 74, which was 11 strokes worse than his scintillating opening round of 63.
West Australian Lee was stuttering at one-over for his round through 15 holes. But a rev up from coach Ritchie Smith, who is on the bag this week, sparked the younger brother of LPGA star Minjee Lee into action.
Lee sank an eight footer for birdie on the 16th hole. He then drove it greenside at the 325-metre 17th and hit his chip to a foot for another birdie. After reaching the 497m 18th in two, Lee sank a rollercoaster 40-foot putt for an eagle 3.
China’s Lin also had a dramatic finish to his round. On his last hole, the par-4 ninth, Lin holed an 82-yard approach shot from the rough for an eagle 2. The left-hander from Beijing was relatively unfazed by the shot given he holed out for an albatross last week from 248 yards.
Lin, who plans to play college golf at the University of Southern California in 2019, was looking forward to the weekend. “It’s definitely an honour to win this event and play the Masters. I’ll play aggressively and stay competitive for the next two days and try to win this thing.
After sleeping on a four-stroke lead, the largest 18-hole advantage in Asia-Pacific Amateur history, Wools-Cobb pulled his opening tee shot into the trees. However, he scrambled a par 4 at the first hole. He was even-par through nine but dropped four shots coming home before salvaging a birdie at the 18th.
Five of the six Australians are in contention, sitting inside the top 15 on the leaderboard
Dylan Perry (71-69) is T-9 and five strokes behind Lee at two under. Travis Smyth (70-71) and Harrison Endycott (70-71) are T-15 and six back. Charlie Dann (74-71) is T-28 and 10 behind Lee at three-over par.
New Zealand’s quest for a maiden Asia-Pacific title is alive with three players in the top 10. Kerry Mountcastle (69-70) and Nick Voke (67-72) are T-4 and four strokes from the lead. James Anstiss (70-70) is T-9 a further stroke back.
The cut fell at six-over par. One of the notables who won’t be playing on the weekend is former champion Guan Tianlang. Five years after winning the tournament as a 14-year-old, Guan shot 75-76 to miss the cut by three.