Indonesia’s Naraajie Ramadhan made a brilliant start to his Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) campaign. His four-under-par 66 put him just one shot behind halfway leaders in Thursday’s opening round.
At Sentosa Golf Club’s New Tanjong course, the 18-year-old from Badung region could have finished tied on top, but for a couple of bogeys in his last three holes. Lloyd Jefferson Go of the Philippines and China’s 2015 AAC champion Jin Cheng were clubhouse leaders on five-under-par 65.
And it was an emotional Naraajie who spoke to the media after his round.
The Sulawesi island in Indonesia was struck by a massive earthquake last week, which was followed by a tsunami, that claimed more than 1,400 lives.
Playing in his fourth AAC, Naraajie shot the second-lowest round in relation to par by an Indonesian in the tournament (George Gandranata holds the record for Indonesia with five-under 67 at Singapore Island Country Club in 2011), but he wasn’t celebrating much.
“I am happy with the start, but I am not very satisfied with my round because I made two bogeys in the last three holes,” said Naraajie, who has won two professional events on the local Indonesian Tour this year and was part of the International team in the inaugural Junior Presidents Cup in New Jersey last year.
“What happened back home has really motivated me to do well this week. I want to play for my country and for the people of Sulawesi. They are really struggling with the earthquake and tsunami. I just hope I can win this week and make all the Indonesians proud.
“I did not have any friend or relatives there, but we are all hurting along with them.”
Lloyd, 23, is making his sixth AAC appearance and his five-under-par 65 matched the lowest round by a Filipino in the tournament – his own first round effort last year in Wellington.
“I felt I did everything very well. Unfortunately, I made bogeys on my last two holes, but otherwise I drove the ball well, hit my iron shots close and made the putts,” said Lloyd, who had started with three birdies in his first five holes.
Cheng, on the other hand, did not have the best start and was even-par after eight holes. He then made five birdies in his next six holes, and parred his way in for a 65.
“I did not have a very good start, but I made some clutch putts to not fall back early. And after I made the birdie on the 18th, I gave myself chances by hitting some good drives and then converting those opportunities,” said Cheng, who finished fifth last year in Wellington.
“Sometimes, having won the tournament before can have its disadvantages because there are more expectations from you. But I know I have done it once, so I can do it once again. That gives me a lot of confidence.”
Australia’s Min Woo Lee, the lowest-ranked player in the field at No. 10 on the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), made a solid start and finished on four-under-par 66 after a round of five birdies and a solitary bogey.