INCHEON, South Korea (October 7, 2016) -- Australia’s Brett Coletta shot a second consecutive 67 to move to 10-under-par and take a one-shot lead over Cameron Davis at the halfway stage of the eighth Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club.
Coletta set the target in the morning and first-round leader Davis (70) was unable to catch his compatriot in the afternoon. Davis closed with two birdies to move to second on a leaderboard featuring three Australians and three Japanese in the top eight.
Junya Kameshiro (69), Japan’s top-ranked amateur, is third at seven-under, two ahead of compatriot Yuwa Kosaihira (72), Thailand’s KK Limbhasut (71) and Australia’s U.S. Amateur Champion Curtis Luck (69), No. 2 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
New Zealand’s Nick Coxon (71) and Japan’s Takumi Kanaya (70) are tied for seventh at four-under, one ahead of three U.S.-based players – Lee Won-jun (69) and Yu Chun-an (71), the top-ranked amateurs from Korea and Chinese Taipei respectively, and China’s Andy Zhang (69).
Teeing off on 10, Coletta set the pace early on as the Melbourne-based 20-year-old powered through the wind in the same determined manner he recently battled through glandular fever, which he contracted in June.
Birdies on 11 and 13 were followed by a bogey at 14 but Coletta bounced back with a 20-foot eagle putt on the par-five 15th to take the lead. After a bogey-birdie finish to an eventful first nine, a cleaner second nine featured seven pars and birdies on the third and ninth.
“I’m just delighted. I just focused, hit some great shots and the score showed. It was actually the complete opposite wind to yesterday and it helped to look at that before we teed off as it was a bit blustery,” said Coletta, last year’s U.S. Amateur Championship stroke play medalist.
“To be honest I didn’t hit it as well today striking‑wise but it’s how good your bad shots are, not how good your good shots are. There were some shots out there that didn’t suit my eye so I was quite nervous over those. It’s the biggest event I’ve ever played and for a first‑timer that’s really nerve‑wracking.”
Unlike Davis, Coletta wasn’t part of Australia’s Eisenhower Trophy-winning team in Mexico two weeks ago but believes he has just as much chance as his higher-ranked teammates.
“I don’t think I’ve surprised myself. I know I’m up to this level if I’m playing well. It’s just a matter of doing it,” Coletta said.
“Obviously it’s a high reward at stake. This weekend, some decisions might change depending on the situation. Like a couple of times today there were some risk/reward shots and I turned it down and said I’m in a good position. I’d probably say no again.”
Before Davis teed off, he congratulated Coletta and then birdied three and four to move within a shot of the lead. An up-and-down round followed as he mixed four bogeys with four more birdies including on three of the last four holes.
“It was good to salvage a decent score. To finish a couple under par and still be near the top is good,” said Davis.
Kameshiro, 21, is bidding to become the first Japanese champion since Hideki Matsuyama retained his title in 2011. Teeing off on 10 two groups behind Coletta, the Osaka Gakuin University student bogeyed 16 before bouncing back with birdies at 18, one, four and five.
“I’m very happy with three-under in these windy conditions. I had a lot of chances on my first nine but couldn’t convert and then played really well on my second nine. The birdie on 18 changed my round. I hit my tee-shot into a bush then hit for a lay-up and from 60 yards I put it to one metre,” Kameshiro said.
“I don’t feel any pressure. Matsuyama is my hero and I enjoy the challenge of trying to follow him as a winner of this championship.”
Thailand’s Limbhasut and New Zealand’s Coxon lead the charge from nations who haven’t won the trophy before, following wins by players from South Korea (2009, 2013), Japan (2010, 2011), China (2012, 2015) and Australia (2014).
Limbhasut, a college star at UCLA, said: “I hit a lot of good shots on the back nine but missed four or five short putts, so I need a solid round tomorrow to put myself in contention for the final day. I still believe it’s possible to win. I’m five shots back right now and it’s supposed to rain so that gives us a chance.”
Coxon also didn’t rule out a weekend charge from the New Zealand contingent, which includes Luke Toomey (72), Nick Voke (72) and Daniel Hillier (70) tied for 12th at one-under.
“I came here to win, but I’ll need to shoot a couple of good rounds to catch Brett,” Coxon said. “I’ll do my best to try and chase them down. There’s a few of us playing pretty solid so it would be good to have a few Kiwis up there. Anyone can still win it.”
This week’s AAC features 118 players from 38 APGC member associations. Television coverage includes three hours of live broadcast on each of the four days and a 30-minute highlights show, and will be aired in more than 160 countries, once again making it the world’s most televised amateur golf tournament.
Spectators are encouraged to watch the drama unfold at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club. Entry to the 2016 AAC is free of charge.
Editors Note: Story by Asia-Pacific Amateur