Australian teenager Min Woo Lee arrived with his C-game and was lucky to depart Royal Wellington just one stroke from the lead with 18 holes to play in the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.
The Chinese were the big movers on Saturday and fill three of the top-six places on the leaderboard. Lin Yuxin showed maturity to recover from a triple-bogey and shoot 69 to take the outright lead at eight-under par in a championship that offers a Masters and British Open invite for the winner.
West Australian Lee looms as the biggest threat to China’s quest for a third Asia-Pacific title. The 19-year-old from Perth ground out an even-par 71, making four bogeys to cancel out an eagle and two birdies. He hit just four of 14 fairways and pulled a number of irons shots to the left.
“I didn’t play too good today. I felt like I had a C-game today but I finished pretty well, 71, even par. It’s a pretty good position going into tomorrow and I would have taken it from the beginning of the week,” Lee said.
“I had a bit of a left shot with my irons. Didn’t really miss many right. So just got to work on that. I have my coach (Ritchie Smith) on the bag, so we’ll go on the range and work on that, and also off the tee.
“I didn’t hit many fairways at all, so just find my swing and have a swing thought for tomorrow.”
Joining Lee one stroke behind Lin is Andy Zhang, a 19-year-old from Beijing who went to the US at the age of 10. His 67 equalled the best round of the day.
Thursday pacesetter Shae Wools-Cobb is three behind in outright fourth after eagling the 18th to shoot 71 and remain where he started the day at five under.
Four off the lead are China’s Yuan Yechun (69) and Kerry Mountcastle. The 22-year-old who hails from Masterton Golf Club is New Zealand’s best chance to win a maiden Asia-Pacific Amateur title. The Royal Wellington member shot a 70 for his third sub-par round of the week.
But it was a struggle for the Australians. None of them broke par amid sunny skies and light winds. Lee, Wools-Cobb and Dylan Perry all shot 71. Harrison Endycott had a 74 while Travis Smyth and Charlie Dann both carded 75.
Leader Lin stayed patient, a lesson he learnt two weeks ago at the European Challenge Tour’s Hainan Open in China. He was one stroke off the lead with six holes to play and made a triple-bogey on route to a homeward nine of 40 to fall into a tie for seventh.
He’s determined not to make the same mistake tomorrow. So, too, is compatriot Zhang. After a double-bogey 7 at the second, Zhang didn’t drop another shot. The Orlando resident went through a purple path from the seventh when he rattled off six birdies in eight holes with no putt longer than six feet.
For full scores, visit aacgolf.com.