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Windred maintains Asia-Pacific Amateur lead entering weekend
Blake Windred (AAC photo)
Blake Windred (AAC photo)

Scores were higher across the board on Friday at the Asia-Pacific Amateur. Still, Australian Blake Windred managed to keep ahold of his lead, even if it shrank from two shots to one shot.

Windred opened with a record-setting 9-under 63 at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, China, but backed it up with a 1-under 71 on Friday. That left him at 10 under, and with a one-shot advantage over Jun Min Lee of Korea and Ren Yonezawa of Japan.

Crucial for Windred in keeping the top spot were the two birdies he made at Nos. 8 and 9, his closing holes. Starting on No. 10, it had not been a particularly pretty front nine. He bogeyed his second hole of the day and added another birdie and a bogey to turn at 1 over. There was another bogey at No. 1.

“I was two over for a lot of that round, actually. I hit a lot of good putts out there that just didn’t want to drop. Obviously, I didn’t do as well as yesterday, but I’m so pleased with the way I stayed very patient,” said Windred, who beautifully struck a six-iron from 175 yards out of a fairway bunker on the ninth to leave himself a 15-footer that eventually gave him the edge for the weekend.

“The seventh...I nearly had to take an unplayable. I was kind of half standing in the bunker. My ball was buried and I didn't really have a stance. I actually gripped down on the lob wedge so much that I was holding on to the shaft. So, yeah, I was quite pleased with just making par on that hole.

“I then just hit a perfect drive and every shot on that eighth hole was just absolutely to tee. Walking from the eighth to the ninth, I said to my caddie, ‘If there’s anything I can take away from today, definitely the way I played the eighth hole was perfect.’

“And that shot on the ninth from the bunker...I practiced that shot a lot. I’ve worn out my 6-iron pretty much. I just hit a perfect 6-iron from 175. I was very happy with that, and to shoot under par, with the way I played today, I’m super happy.”

Windred said he was delighted with his position going into the weekend.

“The goal was basically shooting five under every round. So, I have a bit of work to do over the weekend, but so far, I’m on track,” said the Aussie who will retain his amateur status if he wins the AAC title in order to remain eligible to play in the 2020 Masters and The 149th Open at Royal St George’s.

The defending champion this week, Takumi Kanaya, hails from Japan. Yonezawa is making a bid to try to keep the AAC trophy in that country. It would mean a lot, considering that he and Kanaya are practice partners. Yonezawa is making his first start in this event but he has been very much aware of it the past few years.

“I watched this tournament on TV the past two years, so I am very, very excited to be here and if I have a chance, I want to win this tournament,” he said. “But it will be very, very difficult. I just want to keep going after the first two days.”

There was a six-way tie for the fifth place at five under par which included the 2017 champion Yuxin Lin of China (71). Kanaya climbed to a tie for 12th at three under following a round of 69.

Information from the Asia-Pacific Amateur used in this report

Results: Asia-Pacific Amateur
1ChinaYuxin LinChina150068-71-71-68=278
2JapanTakumi KanayaJapan100072-69-68-69=278
T3ThailandPeng PichaikoolThailand70071-73-70-65=279
T3Chinese TaipeiYung-Hua LiuChinese Taipei70068-71-69-71=279
T5Chinese TaipeiChun An YuChinese Taipei70073-69-70-68=280

View full results for Asia-Pacific Amateur

ABOUT THE Asia-Pacific Amateur

The Asian-Pacific Amateur (formerly known as the Asian Amateur) is the first of a series of worldwide championships put together by a between the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC), the Masters Tournament and The R&A. The event offers the winner an invitation to the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. The champion and runner(s)-up earn spots in The Open Qualifying Series for The Open. The event has historically moved throughout the region and has now been held in China, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Australia and Hong Kong, Korea, and New Zealand.

A field, topping out at 120 players, is selected by the following criteria.

The top two ranked amateur players from each of the APGC member countries plus the four top ranked players from the host country. If there is not a sufficient number of players ranked from that member country, the member country may nominate a player(s) from their country, to be approved by the APGC, to fulfill the two positions eligible from that country.

The remainder of the field will be filled taking the next highest ranked players of APGC member countries, not otherwise qualified. The maximum number of eligible players from any APGC member country (with the exception of the host country) is six. Additional players may be offered at the event's discretion.

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