SHANGHAI – Australia’s Blake Windred matched the lowest round in the history of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) with a nine-under-par 63 in the opening round at Sheshan International Golf Club on Thursday to open a two-stroke advantage on top of the leader board.
Playing in the afternoon in perfect conditions, the 21-year-old from Newcastle finished with four consecutive birdies in a bogey-free round that matched the nine-under-par effort of Japan’s Kenta Konishi in the final round of the 2012 AAC at Amata Spring Country Club in Thailand.
Windred, ranked No. 11 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR), made four birdies from his second to seventh holes, then added just one more over the next seven holes before his final flourish left the field in its wake.
“I just did not want it to end. I was just enjoying it so much and I’m just shattered it’s ended,” said Windred, who had never shot a 63 before.
“Very pleased with the way I played. I think I kind of ticked every goal I had set, so that’s always good. I felt like I executed every shot pretty much down the stretch. I didn’t even realize I birdied the last four until I signed the scorecard.
“The first nine, I kind of struggled getting the pace. I just felt like I could have rolled in a few more. I’m so happy I stayed patient and didn’t start to force it because I knew I had the lines. I was hitting fairways. So, there was always an opportunity to make some down the stretch.”
Windred had made plans of turning professional after the championship, but will put that decision on hold if he does hold aloft the trophy on Sunday.
“If I was to win, I would definitely be playing the majors (2020 Masters and The Open). But it’s just the first quarter. It’s a great start, but yeah, we’ve still got three rounds to go,” he added.
“I guess (winning this) is something that I’ve practiced very hard for, like everyone else. I’ve been working extremely hard on every aspect of my game, and the goal is to win this week. There’s no sugarcoating it; I need to win and that’s it. There’s no other option.
“I’m not going to get ahead of myself, but at the same time, why not embrace all that other stuff and just keep it going. Make a few more birdies tomorrow hopefully.”
Korea’s Junhong Park, playing his first AAC, showed no signs of nerves as he too turned in a bogey-free round, shooting a seven-under-par 65.
A late starter in the game, Park is ranked 1,148th in the world and received a late invitation to the tournament. But he made it count with three birdies on his front nine, and four coming on the back.
“The key to my round was the driver. I hit the driver very well in the practice rounds and I did that again today,” said Park.
“You can do well in this golf course if you keep the ball out of the rough. I did get into trouble on a couple of holes, but I chipped and putted well there to make pars.”
There was a seven-way tie for third place at four-under-par 68, a group that included 2017 champion Yuxin Lin of China. Also placed alongside him were Jun Min Lee (Korea), Ren Yonezawa (Japan), Shuai Ming Wong (Hong Kong, China), Ervin Chang (Malaysia), Yung-Hua Liu (Chinese Taipei, China) and Enhua Liu (China).
Lin did not have the strongest start and was one over after three holes after making bogeys on the 10th and 12th holes.
“I just tried to remain patient. I had anger issues when I was younger and I have tried very hard to keep an even keel on the course. I thought I played pretty well after that and to start with a four under par is good,” he added.
Defending champion Takumi Kanaya of Japan, who rose to WAGR No. 1 when the new rankings was released on Wednesday, slipped to T-24 place after two late bogeys in an even-par 72 round.