Sep 28, 2019: India’s Kartik Sharma turned his best show of the week to move with a whisker of a creditable Top-10 finish at the Asia-Pacific Championships. Sharma, 19, carded five-under 67 following up well on 68 in second round to get to four-under 212 and Tied-11th place. Aided by birdies on each of the four Par-5s, the 19-year-old southpaw, Sharma, who started the day 11 shots behind the leader, is now just four back.
The other Indians had a disappointing day. The 2018 runner-up, Rayhan Thomas, had a tough day off the tee shot 79, including a triple bogey on Par-5 18th. From T-33 he dropped to T-53. Harshjeet Singh Sethie (78) at 14-over was T-58 and Girraj Khadka (78) T-61.
Australian Blake Windred (74) had a mid-round collapse with four bogeys in five holes from the eighth hole, where a snap hook started his fall. He managed to recover with a birdie on 18th, even as playing partner, Ren Yonezawa, who wants to emulate teammate Takumi Kanaya by winning the AAC, dropped a crucial bogey on 18th for a two-shot swing. Both finished at eight-under 208.
Earlier, Yuto Katsuragawa (69) and Yung-Hua Liu (69) played solid rounds to get to eight-under and become clubhouse leaders.
Sharma, who was T-13 at the same event last year, was in great form. full flow. “I hit a lot of fairways. The only two I missed I still managed to birdie them. I found every green and putted well, though I feel I left a shot or two out there,” said Sharma. His sole bogey came on seventh, where he three-putted. “That was disappointing,” he added.
For the third straight day he had a good start, but this time he built on it with three birdies in last five holes and finished at 67.
He added, “I was apprehensive when I started because of discomfort due to a recent surgery. Once I settled in with another good start, two birdies in first three holes, things were fine. Unlike other days I also finished well with three birdies in last four.”
Thirteen players, including Sharma, are within four shots of the lead to set up an exciting final day.
When Yonezawa and Windred, playing together arrived at the 18th, which had yielded many birdies, Yonezawa was at nine-under and Windred was seven-under. A gritty Windred handled it superbly and birdied, while Yonezawa missed a par putt and dropped a shot for a two-shot swing.
“That final birdie was big. Getting it after losing so many following the eighth where I had a snap hook felt real good,” said Windred. “It is always tough to follow up a 63 like I had on first day, but I am happy with the way I have held up. The last birdie was a big positive I will take away.”
He added, “It wasn’t my best performance, as all, but I was quite happy when I rolled that birdie putt in on the last.”
Yonezawa, second at a pro event, Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup, in June 2019, said, “It was very, very tough conditions and tough pin placements. I missed the finishing hole, 18. But 1?over is alright. I have to practice more for tomorrow.”
Yonezawa, playing his maiden AAC, added, “It would have been nice to have a one-shot lead, but it is alright. I will change my strategy a little and I want to win. I have played well this year, including at pro events, so let’s see tomorrow.”
Ensuring a tight contest on the final day will be the day’s best scorer Korea’s Won Jun Lee (66) and defending champion Takumi Kanaya (68) at seven-under, while China’s 2017 AAC champion Lin Yuxin (71) and Jun Min Lee (75) were at six-under.
The winner of the event gets a spot into two Majors, the 2020 Masters and the 2020 Open Championships at Royal St. George’s.