Bo Jin holds the halfway lead in the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship for the second successive year after staying ahead of a charging Ratchanon ‘TK’ Chantananuwat at the Amata Spring Country Club in Chonburi, Thailand, on Friday.
The 20-year-old Oklahoma State University junior finished with a bogey on the par-4 ninth hole, but he did enough good work in a three-under-par 69 round to keep his nose ahead of local star and the highest-ranked player in the field, world No. 12 Chantananuwat, and Korea’s Wooyoung Cho.
Chantananuwat, who said he felt a slight strain in his body from the moment he got up this morning, made a birdie on the sixth hole and followed it up with a stunning 66-foot eagle putt on the par-5 seventh hole. A 68 took him to nine under par, one behind leader Jin.
Like Jin and Chantananuwat, Cho also started from the 10th tee in the morning. The Korean, who finished tied third with Jin in Dubai last year, was on cruise control with five birdies in the first 11 holes before back-to-back bogeys on hole Nos. 3 and 4 pulled him back. He bounced back with birdies on the sixth and seventh for his 67.
Australia’s Karl Vilips (67) and Japan’s Ryuta Suzuki (69) were also among the early starters and finished the day tied fourth at eight-under par 136. They were joined late in the day by James Leow of Singapore (69) and Australia’s Harrison Crowe, who each carded bogeys at the last.
The cut for the championship fell at even par with a total of 54 players from 17 countries securing their places in tomorrow’s third round.
Jin, brother of the 2015 AAC champion Cheng Jin, is ranked 34th on the WAGR. Last year in Dubai, he was leading after rounds of 70 and 64 and had a strong feeling of déjà vu.
“I am in a great position and am obviously reminded of Dubai. I have played some great golf so far and I hope to do the same over the weekend and finish the job,” said Jin.
“I don’t think I played badly during the weekend in Dubai, but Keita (Nakajima) played much better and won. I just need to do my part properly and we will see how it goes after that.”
A wayward drive led to a bogey on the 16th. It took a beautiful tee shot on Amata Spring’s iconic par-3 17th hole to set up a birdie, which steadied his ship.
Déjà vu for TK
The 15-year-old Chantananuwat was also experiencing déjà vu.
“Funnily enough, the last time I had this issue of my body feeling so tight and pain in the neck, was at the SMBC Singapore Open, where four players could get into The 150th Open. And again this week, we are fighting for a place in The Open,” said Chantananuwat.
“I started with a 68 in Singapore and was right up there. I then had a horrible round of 74 which just killed my chances.
“I was worried because I could not get full rotation of body. The way I hit the ball at the range and started my round, I honestly was preparing myself for an 80. And because of that, I am so happy with my 68. I am just one behind right now, and hopefully, will be in a better condition to battle it out over the weekend.”
There were some incredible results for the region when Subash Tamang (70) became the first player from Nepal to make the cut in the history of the championship on even par, followed moments later by Jantai Malataev (69) on two under par achieving the same feat for Kyrgyzstan.