Australia’s Harrison Crowe shot the best round of the day in difficult, windy conditions to take a two-stroke lead into tomorrow’s final round of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Thailand.
At Amata Spring Country Club in Chonburi on Saturday, Crowe, ranked 43 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, made five birdies, including a near-ace on the iconic par-3 17th hole, on his way to a five-under par 67 for a 13-under par total.
Overnight leader Bo Jin (71) of China and Korea’s Minhyuk Song (68) are tied for second place at 11-under. Jin’s compatriot and the reigning U.S. Junior Amateur champion Wenyi Ding matched Crowe’s low round of the day – a 67 – to rise to tied fourth at 10-under alongside Japan’s Ryuta Suzuki.
The conditions were much tougher today with the greens becoming firmer in bright sunlight and with a strong wind blowing throughout the day.
Crowe, who turned 21 on October 15, is already a winner of a professional tournament in Australia this year (the New South Wales Open) and has plans to join the paid ranks soon. He is looking to become the third Australian winner of the championship on Sunday after Antonio Murdaca in 2014 and Curtis Luck in 2016. The winner receives an invitation to the 2023 Masters and The 151st Open.
“I haven’t thought about it but honestly, I am confident that when I turn pro, I will be playing these big tournaments later in my career. I’m not comparing the pressure this week. I’m just having a blast this week and will go out there and do the same things tomorrow,” said Crowe, who won the prestigious Australian Master of Amateurs earlier this year.
“I would turn pro almost as soon as I get back home, but the focus is on tomorrow. I would love to delay that decision.”
Pleasing Round for Crowe
There were two key holes for Crowe on Saturday – the par-4 10th and the par-4 14th. On the 10th, he muscled his ball from the fairway bunker from an awkward lie and managed to make a birdie. On the 14th, he pulled his tee shot into the tall grass, before recovering to make an important 18-feet par putt.
“The last two rounds I have played well before making some mistakes coming in. It could have gone a similar way but I am delighted I made those saves. The one on the 14th was crucial and very pleasing,” added Crowe, who is part of Golf Australia’s high-performance squad.
Grind from Bo Jin
Jin, the 20-year-old Oklahoma State University junior and brother of 2015 champion Cheng Jin, made a late bogey on the 16th hole that denied him a chance to catch the leader.
“I think it was a good day. The conditions were harder. The tees were moved back and the pins were tucked in more and it was windier. To me, 71 is a good score, especially with all the pressure I had in the leader group. It’s tough to have that pressure but I definitely tried to keep that in control,” said Jin.
South Korean junior Song recovered from a double bogey on the par five 7th to make an eagle on the par-5 11th and two late birdies on the 16th and 17th to move him into a tie for second.
Local hero Ratchanon ‘TK’ Chantananuwat, the highest-ranked player in the field, struggled with his physical conditioning for the second straight day and posted a four-over-par round of 76. The 15-year-old, who played with a sprained neck and back in the second round, pulled a muscle near his left hip trying to play a difficult high lob from a downhill lie on the 12th hole, and then suffered a nose bleed coming in.
Chantananuwat’s compatriot Pongsapak Laopakdee was left ruing a costly double bogey on the par 4 16thwhich left him five off the lead at-eight under par.
Created in 2009, the AAC was established to further develop amateur golf in the Asia-Pacific region. The champion will receive an invitation to compete in the 2023 Masters Tournament and The 151st Open, while the runner(s)-up will gain a place in Final Qualifying for The Open.