Shubham Jaglan and Milind Soni in action during the second round of the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship in Dubai at Dubai Creek Golf and Country Club. Pix: AAC
Dubai, Nov 4: Shubham Jaglan and Milind Soni, who had different problems to contend with before the start of the 12th Asia Pacific Amateur Golf Championship, were the best performing Indians at the halfway stage of the event.
Jaglan, who is at the University of South Florida, flew across the world from United States and then spent a good part of Tuesday waiting for his Covid test. By the time it did come, it was getting dark allowing him just some range practice and one hole of play on the practice day. On the other hand, Soni, travelling outside India for the first time, was not even sure if he could tee up after a bout of food poisoning on Tuesday evening.
Jaglan (70-68) is T-15th up from T-24th a day earlier and Soni (71-69) is T-22nd. Other than them, Akshay Neranjan (74-69) at T-42nd made the cut.
Rohan Dhole Patil (72-73) bogeyed the 18th and fell outside the cutline by one. He was Tied-51st and only Top-50 and ties made the cut. Also missing out were Arkesh Bhatia (74-72), who was T-55th, while Aryan Roopa Anand (75-73) and Arjun Gupta (75-73) were T-58th.
Jaglan was four shots behind the new leader, China’s Bo Jin, who had the day’s best card of 7-under. Bo Jin (70-64) is 8-under and seeks to emulate his brother, Cheng Jin, who won the AAC title in 2015. While his brother, Cheng, was a logical inspiration, Bo also had the benefit of advice from India’s Rayhan Thomas, the record holder at the Dubai Creek course. Thomas, runner-up at AAC in 2018, is Bo’s colleague at the University of Oklahoma. Thomas holds the course record of 61, including a world record run of nine birdies in a pro event.
Five players including World No. 1 amateur, Keita Nakajima (67-68), one of the seven overnight leaders, were second one shot behind. The others are Korea’s Kim Baekjun, Sam Choi and Cho Wooyoung and Australian Connor McKinney. Two-time champion Yuxin Lin (67-71) double bogeyed the last and fell to T-15.
Jaglan comfortable with the course
Jaglan, a freshman at the University of South Florida, had five birdies against two bogeys. He said, “The round was pretty good. I got to play yesterday (first round) so I was so used to the tee shot and the wind was down as well and rough is not punishing. I also felt my putting was way better than yesterday. The greens were a little faster today, which I liked, because most of the college events are played on fast greens. So I felt more comfortable.”
“But I did hit bad shots on first and ninth, which were my bogeys for the day. But I came back with a birdie on number two and a birdie on number three. Then more birdies on eighth, 11th and 17th. Overall after it was just solid golf and did not make any mistakes and some nice birdies.”
He added, “I’m really enjoying my experience here so far. The jet lag is sort of fading away now and feeling a lot healthy too.”
The 16-year-old Hyderabad-based Soni making his India debut acquitted himself well with an even par 71 in first round and added 2-under 69 in the second to get to 2-under to be T-22nd.
Soni said, “Feeling weak because I was unwell earlier, I lost a few yards off the tee. On the first day my first goal was to complete 18 holes and I got a par round. Today, I could have played better than 2-under, it should have three or four under. I missed a few putts. I am feeling very tired but way better than the first day.”
Akshay Neranjan, who put himself in the danger after a card of 74 on first day, was the third Indian to shoot in the 60s with a 2-under 69 with five birdies, four of them on back nine, against three bogeys.
Inspired by former champion brother and Indian colleague, Bo shoots 64
Leader Bo Jin said, “I have learned a lot from Cheng (his brother), but when we get to the golf course, I definitely want to beat him. When he won the championship, I was so excited because it meant that I could go to the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club with him. I get plenty of good insight into life and golf from him,” said Bo Jin, who made five birdies on the back nine.
“And Rayhan is a great guy, and a very good friend of mine. We sat down before coming here and he gave me a lot of good advice, like how grainy the greens become and how to putt on them. And how the course is rather short, and why I should practice my wedges more than my long irons. It definitely played a role in my round today.”