Cyclone may disrupt final day of Asia-Pacific Amateur Championships
Chasing duo worried that cyclone could disrupt final-day play
REPORTING FROM HONG KONG
They huffed and they puffed, but neither the blustery Hong Kong winds nor the chasing Australian pack could blow Jin Cheng off his perch atop the leaderboard at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) yesterday.
Locked in a three-way tie for the lead with Aussie pair Ryan Ruffels and Cameron Davis, the Chinese teenager made an exquisite chip to set up a birdie on the 18th for a three-day total of 11-under 199, and a one-shot lead at the Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club.
There is one day of competition to go, but that chip could well prove to be the shot that gives Jin the AAC title and, with that, a ticket to the US Masters in Augusta.
Hong Kong authorities issued tropical cyclone warning No. 3 (of strong winds) yesterday, with gale force winds predicted from Tropical Storm Mujigae today. If play cannot be completed today, the result may be declared after 54 holes.
"It was just so windy, I've never played in such windy conditions, my cap has never flown away from my head - today is the first time," said Jin on a day that saw many in the reduced 62-man field fall foul of the weather.
There were just 16 sub-par scores yesterday, compared to 28 a day earlier, and 42 on Thursday.
Jin said after his one-under 69 score: "I just tried to stay really consistent, and not get caught by the winds."
It was not just the wind that Jin successfully evaded, he managed to stay a hair's breadth ahead of a chasing Aussie pack used to playing in blustery conditions.
Ruffels and Davis adroitly surfed the winds to card identical results of 67, and a three-day total of 200 to finish just one shot behind Jin. But it is a gap they might not have a chance to close.
"When we were sitting there on the back of the 18th green, knowing that (today), there's a fair chance we're not going to be playing, hoping that Jin didn't birdie it, but he did," said a disappointed Ruffels.
But Davis took heart in the day's performance that presented the duo with a shot at victory.
"Both Ryan and I played great in these conditions, and we have got to be proud of that. We have such got a big reward to play for," said Davis.
"We needed to make as much of a move as we could... and if we get a chance to play, then great. But it would have been great to be sitting at the top after today."
Defending champion Antonio Murdaca illustrated the Aussie comfort in windy conditions by turning in the day's best score of 64, taking him to seven under overall, and in with a half-chance at retaining his title.
James Leow was Singapore's best performer with a 70. It helped him climb to join countryman Gregory Foo in an eight-way tie for 19th, the best placing of all six Singaporeans.
- 199: Jin Cheng (Chn) 62-68-69
- 200: Ryan Ruffels (Aus) 69-64-67, Cameron Davis (Aus) 69-64-67
- 202: Yu Chun-an (Tpe) 66-69-67, Kim Tae Ho (Kor) 66-68-68
- 203: Antonio Murdaca (Aus) 69-70-64
- 204: Sangchai Keawcharoen (Tha) 67-70-67.
- 209: Gregory Foo 64-74-71, James Leow 70-69-70
- 213: Abdul Hadi 67-73-73
- 216: Jerome Ng 70-72-74, Joshua Ho 70-73-73
- 220: Joshua Shou 71-72-77