Nakajima seizes slender one-shot lead at AAC - GulfToday

Nakajima seizes slender one-shot lead at AAC


Keita Nakajima hits a tee shot at the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club on Friday.

The 12th edition of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) is set for a thrilling finale on Saturday with world amateur No.1 Keita Nakajima holding a slender one-shot lead over two-time champion Yuxin Lin at Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club.   

Starting round three on Friday in a five-way tie for second behind Bo Jin, Japanese sensation Nakajima carded two birdies on three and four, and picked up further shots on 11, 13 and 16 to bounce back from a bogey on the par-three eighth.

And despite finding water with his drive on the 18th, Nakajima showed his class with a fantastic putt to save par.

He signed for a four-under round of 67, to rise to 11 under par, to remain one ahead of Yuxin going into the final round.

“I’m happy and feeling good. At the start of the round, I felt a bit nervous, but I birdied No. 3 and 4, and that gave me good momentum.  I’m excited and enjoying my golf, so I just hope I can play well and with confidence,” said Nakajima.    

Left-hander Yuxin started the day four shots off the lead, in a tie for 15th after a disappointing second round of 71, but the Chinese star got off to a blistering start with birdies on his first three holes.

He picked up another four birdies and only dropped one shot in his six-under 65, to pit himself in position on 10 under.

“Obviously, my ballstriking was just a little off yesterday, so I worked extra after the round, and it paid off. I just felt like I stroked it better today and the putter was all right. It was a good score,” said the 2017 and 2019 AAC champion.

“I’m really glad I have this opportunity to be in contention again. It would be nice to achieve the three-peat. I’ve gotten myself in this position, and I’m going to enjoy tomorrow and see what happens.”

 Sam Choi and overnight leader Bo Jin are both well poised on nine under.

Hong Kong’s Taichi Kho shot the best round of the day – a seven-under-par 64 – and his reward was a significant jump up the leaderboard to solo fifth place at eight under par. A big group of seven players finished T-6 place at seven under par, four behind the leader.

Elsewhere, UAE No.1 Ahmad Skaik is now sitting on +4 for the tournament after a difficult six-over round, which included two double bogeys.

The left-hander was left to rue some bad luck, which included a lost ball from just off the fairway on the 10th hole.

He said: “I was actually playing decent but for those doubles. I made a few silly decisions after that. On eight it was a tough pin position and I still tried to go for it.

“I left myself a difficult stance in the back of the bunker and ended up with double when I should really have walked away with bogey at worst. And on 10 I hit a drive just left of fairway, but couldn’t find the ball, which was very unlucky, I think. It is not always going to go your way on the golf course.”

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