Shubham Jaglan and Keita Nakajima. Pics: AAC
Dubai, UAE, November 6: Shubham Jaglan played his fourth straight under par round at the 12th Asia Pacific Amateur Championship but ended Tied-11th, which was still the third best finish by an Indian in 12 editions of the event.
Jaglan did have four birdies but he also missed a lot of makeable putts. He also had two dropped two shots like each of the previous days. His rounds of 70-68-69-69 saw him total 8-under 276 and placed him a whisker outside the Top-10 at T-11. It was a finish that will surely see him move up well from his current World Amateur Golf Ranking of 483.
Meanwhile, World No. 1 amateur Keita Nakajima lived up to the billing of being the favourite. He booked himself a berth at the 2022 Masters and the 2022 Open Championship at St. Andrews by winning a play-off on the second extra hole over Hong Kong’s Taichi Kho, a surprise star, who was denied a present ahead of his 21st birthday next Saturday.
Of the other two Indians, who made the cut, Milind Soni (76) crumbled at the end with a bogey-triple bogey finish and was T-41, after being around T25 for the first three days. Akshay Neranjan (76) closed with a double bogey at the end to be T-45th.
Rohan Dhole Patil, Arjun Gupta, Arkesh Bhatia and Aryan Roopa Anand missed the cut.
Jaglan, at one stage looked set even for a Top-5 as he was 3-under through 10 holes. He was giving himself chances.
He said, “My game was really good for the first few holes. I was hitting it really close and gave myself a lot of good chances. So, I worked it to 3-under par through 10 but it was also frustrating because though I was giving myself a lot of good chances, I didn’t convert many putts. After the bogey on 13, I had a good look at 14 and did not make it – it was only six feet. And I three-putted 17 as well. So it was kind of a slow round. Yet overall I am happy.”
Sporting a smile that has come to be his trademark, Jaglan said, “I will take the positives. It was a great week. I had a lot of fun playing with Jin Bo of China and Choi Wooyoung from Korea. I had some great conversations with them.
“This is the biggest tournament I’ve played in my career, and I’m very happy with the way I played and I felt calm throughout the four rounds. I expected to be more nervous to be honest. I hit some really good shots. Met some cool people. So I can’t really ask for much more.
“These are people I’ve never met, some of the top amateurs here. These are people I follow and look up to all the time. So getting to know them, having conversations with them, talking about golf, talking about life, that’s what makes this week really special. To be able to play at such a high level and also meet all these awesome people, it’s amazing.”
Hong Kong’s Kho (65) lying T-5 overnight turned in a dramatic six-hole run with five birdies between ninth and 14th and set the target of 14-under. Nakajima, who held a one-shot lead over two-time champion Yuxin Lin (71), also had a four-shot lead over Kho, who was not in the picture till the back nine. Nakajima birdied three times in the first five holes and seemed to be running away, but a bogey on sixth and a double on ninth set him back. He fought back superbly with birdies on 11, 13 and 15 to catch up with Kho.
Kho reached 14-under on the 14th but could not find any more birdies. A group behind him in the lead trio, Nakajima birdied the 15th to get level with him and he, too, was unable to add a birdie in last three. He did have a go at the lengthy 25-footer for birdie on 18th, but only parred it to set up a play-off. Both parred the first extra hole and then in the second Kho went into the bunker twice and lost.
China’s Jin Bo (68), whose brother won AAC in 2015, and Korea’s Cho Wooyoung (65) were Tied-third. Defending champion Yuxin Lin gunning for a third title, ended T-7 after a triple and a double bogey.