Shanghai: Rayhan Thomas was the top Indian at the end of the first day despite a disappointing one-over 73 at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championships at the challenging Sheshan Golf Club. Thomas, runner-up last year, is currently placed Tied-28th as none of the six Indians broke par.
Australia’s 21-year-old Blake Windred, ranked 11th best amateur in the world shot a stunning nine-under 63 to take a two-shot lead on the first day. He made ample use of ideal scoring conditions to get nine birdies against no bogeys for the best first round ever in the history of Asia-Pacific Amateur golf.
Defending champion Takumi Kanaya shot 72 and was Tied-24th, while the 2017 champion, Lin Yuxin carded 68 to be Tied-third. Asian Games individual gold medallist Keita Nakajima (71) is Tied-17th and one shot better than Kanaya, who was his teammate in the gold medal winning squad in 2018 Asiad in Jakarta.
Windred’s card was also one less than the course record held by Martin Kaymer since 2013. “I didn’t know either, but to come close to that score (Kaymer’s) is pretty cool,” said Blake.
The next best Indian behind Thomas was Harshjeet Singh Sethie (76) was T-54 with three birdies, five bogeys and a double while Kartik Sharma, who began with two birdies in first three holes, had a roller-coaster of a round with four birdies, seven bogeys and a double for 77 and was T-60th. Vinay Kumar Yadav (79), Girraj Khadka (81) and GN Basvaraju (81) had forgettable rounds and need low scores to stay on for the weekend.
Last year Thomas followed a 74 with 64-65-66 in Singapore to finish runner-up. “I will need to do something like that,” said Thomas, who did not make birdies at any of the Par-5s into birdies and actually bogeyed one of them.
Leader Blake said he came to Shanghai with two sets of plans. The first was to stay amateur in case he won, and second, to turn pro if he did not emerge champion this week. “I will stay amateur only if I win, because that would give me a chance to play the Masters and the Open,” said Windred, who also revealed that he spoke to the 2016 champion and fellow Australian Curtis Luck, who is now a pro.
Windred, 24th at the AAC last year, had four birdies on the front nine went five-under on 10th. Then he closed the round with four birdies in last four holes.
Korea’s Junhong Park, who started golf only seven years ago, and is a late entrant into the Championships, shot a bogey free 65. He is ranked above 1,100 and the group of six at Tied-third and at four-under 68 includes another Korean, Jun Min Lee, who is also ranked above 1,000.