Oct 06, 2018: Rayhan Thomas compiled a bogey free 5-under 65 to go with his Indian record-setting 64 a day earlier to put himself into contention with one more round to go at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Golf Championship. The Dubai-based Thomas, who turns 19 in five weeks, is now Tied-8th at 7-under 203 and just three behind the leader and Lin Yuxin, the defending champion. Lin Yuxin, who will turn 18 in six days time, played with the Indian and exploded into sizzling form with the week’s best of 8-under 62 to take sole lead at 10-under 200.
Filipino Lloyd Jefferson Go (69) used the rain break to calm himself and hung in well to card a gritty 1-under 69 after dropping a double on eighth and another bogey on 15th. He is 9-under, one behind the lead and second.
Five players, including the 2016 champion, Cheng Jin (70), 2018 Asian Games double gold medallist Keita Nakajima (67), Japan’s Asian Games team gold medallist Takumi Kanaya (64), highly-rated Thai KK Limbhaust (68) and China’s Zheng Kai Bai (69), coming off a win in US collegiate golf and his eighth career hole-in-one at the US Amateurs in August.
On a day when overnight co-leaders, Jefferson Go and Cheng Jin were subdued with 69 and 70, a bunch of others made a sharp move up. They included leader Lin Yuxin (62), Indonesian Naraajie Ramadhan (63), Kanaya (64) and last year’s runner-up Andy Zhang (64). The last three are T-8thwith India’s Thomas (65).
Thomas is now in line to register the best finish by an Indian at the AAC, a record held by Khalin Joshi with T-9th in 2010.
Left-hander Kartik Sharma, a first-timer at AAC, recovered well from mini-slump on the back nine, when he dropped a double bogey and a bogey between 11th and 13th. He shot 1-under 69 and at 4-under 206 is Tied-14th.
Thomas got off to a shaky start as he realised he had forgotten his yardage book back in the hotel and the battery in his Bushnell Range finder ran out of battery on the first hole itself. “It was a little unnerving and I could not get the distance for my second shot on the first hole, but managed a birdie on second. I borrowed a battery and got a new yardage book, but was still without my first two days of notes. But happily I hit it great and putted well, though a couple of more could have gone in. Still bogey free is a good feeling and being three behind is great after being 10 back at end of first day and six after second,” said Thomas, who is bogey over last 27 holes and has just one in last 37.
Lin Yuxin before the event had said he would do everything in his power to keep the Trophy for another year, kept that promise. Injured till a few weeks ago, he admitted he was not hitting it well before coming here. He said, “To be honest with you, I don’t know what happened to me. I was hitting it really bad two weeks ago and couldn’t really find a driver that worked. The Callaway guys did a really good job and the 3-wood is like a fairway finder for me. (Now) I also have a good driver.”
He added, “Definitely didn’t see that 8-under coming. We had a tight leaderboard up there, and I knew that if I had a good round, I would be in contention.”
He added, “I didn’t really do well this year at the Masters and the British. I had some issues with my wrist and stuff. Hopefully I can win tomorrow and just prove to myself that I have the game for major championships.” It would also make him only the second player after Hideki Matsuyama to win the AAC twice.