First Cut is the Sweetest for New AAC Heroes

The 10th edition of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) has once again delivered on the two objectives which it set out to achieve – ‘creating heroes’ and growing the game.

Three players – Macau’s Ngai Si, Saudi Arabia’s Othman Almulla and Jordan’s Shergo Al Kurdi –

made history at the New Tanjong course of Sentosa Golf Club when they became the first from their countries to feature in the weekend rounds of the championship.

Si, from Macau Country Club, shot into prominence by winning the 2017 APGC Junior Championship after shooting a final-round 65. In Singapore, he opened with a two-over 72, but followed up with a 70 to comfortably stay inside the top-60 at the halfway stage.

The 32-year-old Almulla opened with a solid one-under-par 69, the first sub-par score by a Saudi golfer in the tournament. In the second round, a blister in his left foot saw him hobble through the round and he was in danger of dropping out after going four-over par for his front nine. But he then showed resilience on the back nine to grind out an even-par 35 and make the cut by three.

Al Kurdi is the youngest player in the field at 15, and just like Almulla, became the first player from his country to record a sub-par round on Thursday (69). The reigning Jordan Amateur champion advanced with at one stroke under the cut despite an agonizing triple-bogey 7 on the par-4 eighth hole on Friday.

Two other players – Sukra Bahadur Rai of Nepal and Samoa’s Van Wright – also came close to matching their feat.

Rai could have joined that list, but playing his second AAC, the Nepalese golfer made bogeys on three of his last six holes to miss the cut by one shot.

After being well inside the cutline, Wright missed by two shots. He started his second round with two birdies, but could not find another after that and four bogeys in the last 16 holes denied him the honour.

“I am happy that I am the first player from Jordan to achieve this, but honestly, I came into the tournament hoping for at least a top 10, if not win it,” said the confident Al Kurdi, who is based in the UK and considers his father Musa his golfing idol.

“That triple bogey was a bit tough to swallow. I now just want to put together two good sub-par rounds and show what I am capable of.”

Almulla, who plans to turn professional later this year, was delighted that he did not let things slip away from him after the start on Friday.

“It’s pretty special to be honest. It was my goal this week to play four solid rounds. And to play four solid rounds, you have to make the cut,” said Almulla.

“I am happy to make some history for my country but what would give me more satisfaction is if I can motivate a few youngsters back home to take up the game thinking that if I can do it, so can they. That would be the best outcome of my efforts here.”

The 10th edition of the region’s premier amateur golf tournament – organized by the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC), the Masters Tournament and The R&A – is being played at Sentosa Golf Club, with the final round scheduled for Sunday.

The AAC winner earns an invitation to the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club and a place in The 148th Open at Royal Portrush in 2019, provided he retains his amateur status. The runner(s)-up will gain a spot in The Open Qualifying Series.