NZ’s Campbell takes three-shot lead into Saturday

New Zealand’s Ben Campbell takes a commanding three-shot lead into the third day of the Asian Amateur Championship after shooting a magnificent bogey-free round of 66.

The New Zealander’s bogey-free round was the lowest in the 120-man field and included four birdies and an eagle, taking him to 11-under for the tournament, three shots ahead of the field at The Singapore Island Country Club’s New Course.

However, he will have no room for complacency with a chasing pack that includes the defending champion and the winner of the Australian Boys Amateur. Home favourite Lam Ziqhun also leapt back into contention with a superb 66 of his own.

At the other end of the field there is still much to play for after two hour early morning rain delay meant 30 players were unable to finish. The final cut will not be made until all second rounds are finished tomorrow morning.

Speaking after his round, the overnight leader said: “I managed to make a few putts that I needed and secured a couple of birdies at the right time. Overall I was pleased with my performance.

“I’ve got a little bit more work to do on the range, a few shots here and there that I can improve on but all in all I had a good run with my putting.

“I take it a shot and a day at a time. I’m taking it as it comes but I’m playing well at the moment, so I’m feeling pretty comfortable.”

Campbell, who shot 67 yesterday and is yet to make a bogey, came into the tournament on a tremendous run of form after making the cut and finishing T-40th at last week’s Asia Pacific Open in Japan.

He teed off from the 10th and picked up his first stroke on the 14th, quickly followed by eagle at 16. He went on to birdie holes 2 and 7 before finishing with another at 9.

The 20-year-old – who qualified 4th for The Amateur Championship only to be knocked out in the second round of matchplay – has impressed at the AAC before, finishing T-4th last year.

Malaysia’s Kenneth Christian John De Silva – who finished for the day with three holes still to play – was in second place at eight-under. He continued the good form he showed yesterday, when he shot 67, with a round that included three birdies and no bogeys.

A further shot back in a tie for third on seven-under are overnight leader Korea’s Lee Soo-min and Australia’s Cameron Smith, the only other player so far to shoot two sub-70 rounds. The Brisbane-born 18-year-old started at the 10th with a birdie and followed it up with others on 12, 16, 5 and 9. However, bogeys on 13 and 7 kept his scored to 69, one more than yesterday.

A further shot back is defending champion Hideki Matsuyama. A solid yet unspectacular round of 71 – three birdies and two bogeys – coupled with Thursday’s 67 leaves the Masters Silver Cup winner on his own in fourth place at six-under.

The 19-year-old said: “It was a struggle out there today and I really had to grind to get a result. Everything about my game wasn’t there. It’s been a long day after my early start [and subsequent delay] so I just want to go back and rest. I’m still in contention and I still have a good chance to win back to back title and I will continue to try my best to do this.”

The comeback player of the day so far is home favourite Lam Zhiqun. The Singapore National Amateur champion shot a six-under 66 – a full eight shots better than yesterday. His two-day total of 140 puts him back in contention at four-under. The 22-year-old – who led the tournament at this stage last year – will be confident of shooting low at the weekend as he holds a personal best of 63 round what is his home course.

“I was more focused and patient with my game,” he explained. “

I did mess up a couple of shots that I shouldn’t have but overall I am pleased with my performance. Yesterday was just one day, we have two left which is plenty of time to improve.

“I was happy that my score after today’s round especially as it was the same as Ben Campbell’s, so this has increased my confidence ready for the weekend”.

Information on broadcast times for all Asian Amateur Championship programming can be found by checking local listings. In Singapore, all broadcasts will air on ESPN-Star as follows:

Round 2 Highlights:  today at 11pm

Round 3 Live:  1 October from 3pm to 5pm

Round 4 Live:  2 October from 3pm to 5pm

Event Highlights:  3 October at 4.30pm

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