Kevin Yuan sets amateur course record, grabs 2-shot lead at Aussie Am
Kevin Yuan is a big, shiny talent in a small, shy
Yuan makes his approach at 17
Golf Australia Photo
He’s also the new holder of the Metropolitan’s
amateur course record after carding a spectacular
eight-under-par 64 today to lead the men’s
Australian Amateur Championship, presented by
Yuan, a semi-finalist in 2015, again showed his
liking for the event with six birdies and an eagle
in a blemish-free opening round, all but ensuring
his berth in the matchplay phase from Thursday
with a two-shot lead.
Late in the afternoon, former Wagga Wagga
youngster Charles Pilon – transplanted to the Hills
International School made famous by Jason Day
in Queensland – fired a seven-birdie 66 to sit
Yuan, like Emirates Australian Open winner Matt
Jones a member of The Australian, has support at
the top of the leaderboard from clubmate and
training partner Isaac Noh.
Noh joined South Australian youngster Liam
Georgiadis and Queenslander James Macklin in a
tie for third at 67, with all the leaders having
The best scores from nearby Kingswood, with the
clubs sharing the opening 36 holes of strokeplay,
was Queensland duo Shae Wools-Cobb and Jarrod
Stirling’s pair of 68s, while England’s Ashton
Turner shot the same score at Metropolitan.
But the day belonged to Yuan, whose round was
described by marker Josh Brumm as “easily the
best” he’d seen.
Even more remarkable is that the softly spoken
Sydneysider was playing just his fifth competitive
round since a serious wrist injury in September
sidelined him for almost three months.
The lightly built Yuan was returning weights to a
rack when he hurt his wrist and did not play
competitively until last week’s Master of the
“I was actually not doing exercise (at the time of
suffering the injury), but just moving the
weights,” he said.
“My wrist healed in time and I was able to hit
balls in early December but I could only sort of
much around until a few weeks ago.
“But I put in some pretty good work over
Christmas, so I’m pretty happy with how I’m
“I went out there with an open mind and tried to
get a few birdies on the par-fives and the shorter
par-fours and make pars on the tougher holes
and I think that’s what I did.”
A bonus came on the par-five eighth hole when
he lasered a 3-iron to within 2m from where he
rolled in an eagle putt.
“It’s an amazing golf course to shoot 64 at – I
had so much fun out there and playing such a
good course and hitting the shots I had in my
“I hold the Aussie Amateur in high regard and I
have tried to practise hard for it and I think I’ve
done my work … despite my injury.”
It matched Yuan’s lowest career round at Twin
Creeks in western Sydney.
Pilon, just 17, left his Wagga home almost two
years ago to further his golf and education in
Queensland and considers himself a Maroon in all
things bar rugby league.
Impressively in just his second outing on a
Sandbelt course after making his debut last week
at Royal Melbourne, Pilon made no tangible errors
after a bogey on the 12th, his third hole.
“It was awesome – I was hoping to get out there
and shoot around square to continue towards the
matchplay, but I was rolling my putts in, hitting
some good shots and not too many mistakes, so
it all went to plan,” he said.
In a quirk of fate, Pilon qualified 12th for the
matchplay phase last year in his first Aussie
Amateur outing, but was knocked out in the first
round by Yuan.
Among those with work to do tomorrow are Golf
Australia national squad member Zach Murray
and his Victorian Institute of Sport teammate
David Micheluzzi who each shot 75 at Kingswood.
Perth prodigy Min Woo Lee fired a flat 78, while
New Zealand No.1 Luke Toomey had a 77, also
both at Kingswood.
The second round begins tomorrow at 7.30am
with the top 64 men advancing to the matchplay
phase from Thursday.