Jaglan, Chugh top Indians in Melbourne, as China’s Sampson edges closer to Masters and Open berths

Raghav Chugh and Sbubham Jaglan

Melbourne, Oct 28: The Indians got a taste of the challenging conditions at the iconic Royal Melbourne golf course at the Asia-Pacific Amateur golf championships. The winner from this landmark event goes to two of the greatest Majors, the Augusta Masters and the Open, which will be held at the Troon next year.

Shubham Jaglan and Raghav Chugh, who were the top Indians after the first and second days respectively are now together the best placed Indians after the third day.

Jaglan and Chugh, both on golf scholarships in the United States, shot rounds of 75 and 78, to be tied 24th with totals of 11-over at the Par-71 course brought to life by Alister Mackenzie, who also designed the famous Augusta National.

Yuvraj Singh (78) was T-49 and the 13-year-old Kartik Singh, whose love for the Rubik’s cube and chess on a computer is surpassed only by his goals in golf, shot 81 and dropped to 18-over and T-54th. Still smiling, Kartik remarked, “I have one more day.”

Shaurya Bhattacharya, who waged a titanic battle for an even par 71 to recover from 83 on the first day, had another decent day with 74. He moved up to T-42, up from the cutline at T-60.

On a day, when the challenging and overwhelming conditions at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club took the spotlight, Zheng Sampson-Yunhe, the big built Chinese youngster, who was born in Nagoya, Japan, produced the week’s best card of 6-under 65 to get to the top the charts.

With a four-shot lead, Sampson may well be on his way to the Masters and the Open, the two of the most coveted Majors.

Starting the day with a total of 3-over for 36 holes and six behind the leader, Sampson, 22, was T-13 after two rounds. The University of California golfer zoomed to the top with six birdies and an eagle against two bogeys. At 3-under he was the only player still under par and led the field by four shots over Australian Billy Dowling (73) at 1-over total of 213.

The first-round leader Kazuma Kobori of New Zealand who shot 74, and China’s Ding Wenyi (76) were tied third at 2-over 214.

Only four players brought home under-par cards on the third day and India’s best came from Shaurya Bhattacharya with a 3-over 74.

Quite appropriately Zheng Sampson-Yunhe came here after having played his last event at the Meadow Club, also a Mackenzie layout in California. Zheng did not win, but finished 20th, but said the experienced helped.

Playing in his third edition of the Championship, Sampson Zheng broke the amateur Composite Course record of 66 held by Sir Michael Bonallack for 55 years. That record of 66 was matched by New Zealand’s Kazuma Kobori in the first round. Earlier this year, Sampson was in the Asia-Pacific team that beat the Europeans to win the Bonallack Trophy, which was set up by Sir Michael Bonallack, whose record Sampson beat.

Zheng mastered the gusting winds on the famous Sandbelt venue to rack up four birdies on the first nine holes against just one bogey. He moved up a gear again with a spectacular eagle three at the par-5 10th which took him clear of the field.  He added birdies on the 12th and 13th before giving a shot back at the next on 14th.

Zheng who is now in California at the Golden Bears Athletics University, has been having a great year and obviously chooses big events to put out his best. “I love the challenge of tough course and big events,” said Sampson, who also won the highly competitive US Amateur Four-ball with fellow Chinese player, Aaron Du, at Kiawah Island in May.

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