Shubham Jaglan and Milind Soni (Inset). Pics: AAC
Dubai, Nov 5: Shubham Jaglan negotiated the tough closing stretch at the Dubai Creek Golf and Country Club with two birdies and a superb par from 10-12 feet to card 2-under 69 in the third round of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.
The 69 followed 70-68 on the first two days. With three straight rounds under par, 17-year-old Jaglan’s is 6-under for 54 holes and five behind the leader World No. 1 Keita Nakajima (67).
Jaglan at T-13th has a great chance for a Top-10 finish. Only two Indians, Rayhan Thomas (T-2 in 2018) and Khalin Joshi (T-9 in 2010) have do so.
The other two Indians, Milind Soni and Akshay Neranjan, who made the cut shot 71 each and were placed T-24 and T-37.
Nakajima (67) moved to the top of the leaderboard and held a slender one-shot lead over the two-time champion, Lin Yuxin of China and the overnight leader Jin Bo (69), who is trying to emulate his brother Jin Cheng by winning the AAC. Jin Cheng won in 2015 and Bo accompanied him to Augusta National.
When Jaglan finished the round, the leaderboard showed him 1-under, but it was actually 2-under. He pointed out it was 2-under and added with a smile, “They were asking that in the scoring area.”
Jaglan who had four birdies against two bogeys, said, “It was pretty good. I was nervous going into the round knowing I was going to play with Puwit (Anupansuebsai). He’s a really good college golfer and somebody I look up to, so it was a pleasure playing with him.
“I got off to a solid start, hit the green on the first seven holes in a row, so that settled me into the round. I didn’t hole too many putts. I gave myself some good opportunities and the wind was up a little bit today. The tees, especially, on the par 3s were back and that’s where I really struggled. I hit into the water on No. 8 and hit it in the bunker long on No. 14 and made bogey on both.” Jaglan, who had earlier birdied fourth and 10th just hung in.
He added, “I sort of hung in there and kept giving myself good opportunities and came back with birdies on 15 and 16, which was pretty good. I saved a good par on 18.”
Of the birdie on 15th which did not show initially, he said, “I hit a 3-wood and was in the rough. I had 111 yards to the flag. Hit a soft sand wedge, and had a little left-to-right downhill putt. I thought it was going to miss right but it just lipped in.” As for the par on 18th, where he went over the green, Jaglan smiled and added, “I saw my partner’s putt and sort of saw the line and it helped.”
About plans for the final round, he said, “I feel good about my game. I’ve been hitting the ball really well all three days. Usually when the wind picks up, I start losing my tempo but that’s something I’ve been working on for the past month or so and that’s really helping me, and it’s just getting more comfortable on the golf course, that always helps, so looking forward to tomorrow.”
Milind Soni, who has been fighting weakness once again saw his mind win over body, as he had three birdies and three bogeys in first 11 holes, but played par on last seven.
Akshay Neranjan was making a good move at 2-under without any bogeys in first 15 holes, but dropped a shot each on 16 and 18 for an even par 71.
The day’s best card came from Kho Taichi (64), which equalled this week’s best shot earlier by Jin Bo and Thailand’s Puwit in the second round. Kho is fifth, one behind Korea’s Sam Choi (69). Puwit is T-6 alongwith three others Yuki Moriyama of Japan, Australian Andre Lautee and Japan’s Leo Oyo.