Teenaged Kshitij best Indian at Asia-Pacific Amateurs
Singapore, Oct 4 (PTI) India's Kshitij Naveed Kaul negotiated the tougher afternoon conditions well enough to return with a one-under 69 on the first day at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championships.
The 17-year-old, making his third AAC appearance, had four bogeys and three birdies and was lying T-19 in the highly-competitive event, from where the winner gets into next year's Masters and The Open.
Kshitij opened with birdies on his second and third holes but gave away those gains with back-to-back bogeys on fourth and fifth.
A birdie on ninth, a long putt from around 20-22 feet saw him turn in one-under.
On the second nine as the wind picked up it also began raining intermittently but Kshitij played steady for one birdie and one bogey and parred the rest at the New Tanjong Course on Sentosa Island.
Overall, it was a modest day for the other Indians.
None of them came under par, as southpaw Kartik Sharma (71) was T-38th, Yuvraj Sandhu (72) was T-45, Varun Parikh (73) was T-58th and both Rayhan Thomas and Vinay Kumar Yadav with 74 each were T-67th.
David Micheluzzi, the second-best ranked Australian in the event, came to the Par-4 18th at 4-under and sent the crowd into raptures as he dramatically holed his second shot for an eagle.
It handed him the sole lead as Jin Cheng, the 2015 AAC champion, Filipino Lloyd Jefferson Go and Chinese Taipei's Yung-Hua Liu were all 5-under 65.
Micheluzzi said, "Actually I have never had an eagle on a Par-4 at 18th. Also, the rain in the afternoon made it cooler and I felt better."
Yung-Hua, who played in the afternoon session alongside India's Kaul, had his own dream run of six birdies in seven holes, including five in a row from 12th to 16th as he raced from an one-over front nine to a final five-under 65.
The closing holes provided some dramatic finishes in the afternoon. Thai Sadom Kaewkanjana eagled the Par-5 16th and birdied 17th to jump from 1-over to 2-under and around the same time on the 18th, Korea's Jin-Bo Ha, playing two groups ahead, holed his second shot for an eagle on Par-4 18th and finished at 66 in Tied-5th with top-ranked Australian Min Woo-Lee.
Few minutes later, Sadom's playing partner, Micheluzzi in the second to last group also landed his own eagle and that, too, on Par-4 18th to leap into sole lead at 6-under.
Gurgaon youngster Kartik Sharma had four birdies against five bogeys in his 71, while Yuvraj Sandhu opened with a birdie on 10th, but dropped three in a row from 12th to 14th.
He managed to get back to under par with three birdies in four holes from 18th to third, but double bogeys on fourth and eighth and just one birdie in between, saw him finish at 2-over 72 for T-45th.
Ahmedabad's Varun Parikh, twice winner on domestic circuit this season, had four birdies, but also dropped three sets of back-to-back bogeys and ended at 73, while Thomas, the top-ranked Indian, and Yadav of the Delhi Golf Club, disappointed with 74 each and left themselves to card solid second rounds to make the cut.
Indian scores: Kshitij Naveed Kaul (69 T-19th); Kartik Sharma (71 T-38th); Yuvraj Sandhu (72 T-45); Varun Parikh (73 T-58th); Rayhan Thomas and Vinay Kumar Yadav (74 T-67th).
Leaders: David Micheluzzi (Aust) 64 1st; Cheng Jin (Chn), Lloyd Jefferson Go (Phi) and Yung-hua Liu (Tpe) 65 (-5). 5 players at 66 (-4)