Guan Fires into the Frame

A sparkling front nine by defending champion Guan Tianlang has shot the Chinese prodigy into contention at the midway point of the third round of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC).

Guan, who started moving day six strokes behind overnight co-leaders, Korea’s Lee Chang-woo and Shohei Hasegawa of Japan, picked up a shot at the par-5 first before handing it straight back at the demanding second. But birdies at the fourth, fifth, seventh and ninth holes had Guan, who turned 15 on Friday, out in just 32 on a friendlier day for scoring at Nanshan International Golf Club in Shandong province, China.

An invitation to the Masters Tournament and International Final Qualifying for The Open Championship awaits this week’s winner.

Guan’s compatriot Dou Zecheng was another who took advantage of this morning’s more benign conditions. With the sun out and the gusty winds of the opening rounds reduced to a consistent breeze, the 16-year-old recaptured the lead he established on day one thanks to birdies at the eighth and ninth to stand at one-under for the championship after the first nine holes.

Dou, who shot to prominence earlier this year by making the cut at the China Open, leads Lee (level par) by a shot with the Garden Course’s more difficult back-nine to play. Korea’s Lee Soo-min and Hasegawa (one-over) are a further shot back in a tie for third on a tightly bunched leader board.

Sam An of New Zealand recorded a hole-in-one Saturday at the 174-yard, par 3 17th with a six iron. His ace was the second ever in AAC history. The first came in 2009 by Shohel Shakhawat and the 203-yard, par 3 15th with a 5-iron on Mission Hills Golf Club’s World Cup Course in Shenzhen, China.

LONGKOU CITY, China: The view down the 7th fairway during the Asia -Pacific Amateur Championship at Nanshan International Golf Club, Garden Course during round two on Friday, October 25, 2013. Picture by David Paul Morris/AAC.
LONGKOU CITY, China - Dou Zecheng of China pictured during round three on Saturday 26 October at the Asia -Pacific Amateur Championship at Nanshan International Golf Club, Garden Course. Picture by Paul Lakatos/AAC.