NSW Golf

Aussies bow to inspired Lin at Asia-Pac Am

Sometimes, you just have to defer to a better opponent.

That was the case today when Australia’s charge to the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship ran into the Great Wall of China in the form of champion Lin Yuxin and runner-up Andy Zhang.

With Australian pair Min Woo Lee and Shae Wools-Cobb breathing down their necks for much of a pulsating final round at New Zealand's Royal Wellington, the stage was set for a grandstand finish.

But both Aussies came to grief on the driveable par-four 14th, effectively ending their chances as Zhang and then Lin ground them down with exemplary iron play.

As the Chinese teammates settled down for what promised to be a tight race to the line, they walked to the 71st tee level at 11 under par.

But Lin, just 17 but already a prodigious ball-striker, had other ideas.

He uncorked a monstrous drive to reach the side of the 325m par-four 17th and then chipped inside 50cm to go one clear

But his imperious power was far from finished.

The Beijing golfer, promised to become a University of Southern California student in 2019, blasted another great drive down the final hole, then, with Zhang on the front edge and with a long eagle chance, he delivered the coup de grace.

Lin’s five-iron from 197m was the best shot of his young life. He ripped it to within 1m and calmly knocked in the eagle to win by three shots after a remarkably composed closing 65.

Under the griller of impending Masters and Open berths, he remained cool to the end, saying his closing long iron was even better than an albatross he scored two weeks earlier in Macau.

“Being the Asia-Pacific Amateur champion is way better than the albatross,” Lin said.

“The albatross doesn't mean anything.”

Lee remained gallant until the end, despite rating his game today as only “B-minus”.

After zig-zagging his way up the 18th, he chipped in for birdie to card his second consecutive even-par 71 to share third a seven under, a distant seven shots behind the hard-charging champ.

“You want to win, but the way I played I think third is a good result,” the West Australian said.

“We didn’t get anything going. I was just talking to my coach (and caddie Ritchie Smith) and finishing third at seven under, we don’t know how we did it.”

“But props to Yuxin and Andy, they played great.

“Yuxin was awesome today. He hit the two best drives you could hit on 17 and 18 – it was a big win for him and hopefully he has fun at Augusta.”

Lee closed within three of the lead after chipping in for birdie at the tough par-four 10th hole and thought himself poised to charge.

“But I ended up putting it in the water on 14 – I took driver and had to give it a go, but it just didn’t work out my way.

“I’ll just have to keep working and take all the lessons I’ve learnt here for next time.”

Wools-Cobb fought impressively to reach eight under with a two-under-par front nine and then another great birdie on the par-three 11th.

But after a wayward drive on the 14th, he, too, wobbled with bogeys on that hole, 16 and 17 to fall back to where he began an ultimately disappointing final round at five under to finish tied sixth.

“The last five holes were pretty average. I felt good the whole day until I hit a few bad swings and then I got pretty flat,” said the normally bubbly Queenslander who said he learnt plenty this week.

“Just playing with the lead. That first round I learnt lots and the second round, if I’m in that position next time I’ll be better for it.”

Harrison Endycott finally tamed his putter and roared home with the second best round all week by the Aussie contingent – a sparkling 66 featuring eight birdies.

Only a wild drive that cost a double-bogey on the 12th prevented the effervescent Sydneysider from an even loftier perch than his T10 finish at three under.

“It was good to finally see a few drop … that round has been coming all week, so I’m happy but I only wish I’d found it a day or two earlier,” he said.

Dylan Perry couldn’t find the momentum he craved all weekend and carded a 72 to finish at one under in T15, while fellow New South Welshman Travis Smyth closed with a pair of birdies in his 70 to reach two over and T24.

Smyth has played his last round as an amateur and confirmed after his round that he will turn professional this week in time for the upcoming NSW Open, Emirates Australian Open and Australian PGA Championship.

Queenslander Charlie Dann continued his flat week with a closing 74 that left him at 10 over and in a share of 52nd.

FINAL SCORES

20 November 2018
ANTILL PARK: Medley: Stableford 2B Agg: White: K Mcgreavey (20) A Buchan (36) 79. 2B Scr: J Warren D Tindall 62. A: N Warren (7) 40. B: H Sewalt (18) ... more
NSW Golf