The two 20-years-old become the first player from Nepal and Kyrgyzstan to make it to the weekend in the history of the AAC.
Subash Tamang and Jantai Malataev made history for Nepal and Kyrgyzstan, becoming the first-ever players from their respective countries to make the cut at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC).
Some people may think it was written in the stars for the two 20-years-old, as both teed off on Friday at Amata Spring Country Club at exact same time – 07:03 local time.
Tamang, playing in the group that included halfway leader Bo Jin of China, started well from the 10th tee with birdies on his first two holes. However, he needed to make knuckle down and make birdies on the sixth and seventh holes (his 15th and 16th), and a knee-knocking 12-footer for par on his final hole to proceed to the weekend right on the number.
Malataev, a Lincoln Memorial University student in Tennessee, also birdied the 10th and 11th holes. He also started and closed his round with birdies on the first and 18th to finish the day on three-under par 69 and goes into the weekend tied 33rd at two-under par total.
Pride in AAC Achievements
Tamang never gets too excited about his own exploits, but was delighted to have achieved his first objective in the tournament.
“I am feeling very happy. I think I have done something to make my country proud. I really did not have any expectations coming into such a big tournament, but I wanted to make the cut, and I have done that,” said Tamang, who rose from abject poverty and is now the highest-ranked player from Nepal ever (with a best World Amateur Golf Ranking of 105).
Malataev, who started playing golf at Maple Leaf Golf Club near capital Bishkek, the only nine-hole golf club in his country, said: “Pretty proud of myself to make that final putt. I played some solid golf. I came here dreaming that I would get to play the Masters one day.
“But more than myself, I think this will hopefully open up some doors for the younger players from Kyrgyzstan, grow the game there, and give them some more opportunities.”
Learning from Top Talent
It was typical Tamang after the round – shy to talk about himself, but words started flowing more freely when he spoke about his playing partner Jin.
“The one thing that I definitely wanted to do when I came to the AAC was watch some top golfers and learn from them. And I was so lucky that I was in the same group as Jin,” said Tamang of his playing partner, who leads the tournament into the third round with scores of 65 and 69.
“I saw how he managed the golf course so well. I saw how he’d bounce back with a birdie everytime he made a bogey. It was a great learning experience for me.”
Tamang said he was devastated by his first-round finish, when he made a double bogey on the 17th and a bogey on the 18th to drop down from a respectable one-under par to two-over.
“That night I kept thinking about it for a long time. I thought about my mistakes – like how I miscalculated the wind on the 17th hole – and my only aim for the second round was not to repeat those mistakes. I am happy that I was a lot more solid,” said Tamang,
“I am going to aim higher in the third round. I have a fair understanding and experience of playing the golf course now and Jin has showed that it is very possible to go low on this golf course. I am thinking a 67 on Saturday would be a good goal.”
Opportunities to Develop
Asia Pacific Golf Confederation chairman Taimur Hassan Amin was delighted with the effort of the two youngsters.
“As much as the championship is about finding the best players in our region and seeing them develop through the extraordinary opportunities provided, it is also about inspiring smaller golfing countries to develop and improve,” said Amin.
“I wish both Tamang and Malataev all the best for the weekend and will very keenly watch their journeys in the future.”
- By Joy Chakravarty