- Lin Yuxin will become the first Chinese amateur to play in The Open
- Lin is the third Chinese player to win the Asia-Pacific Amateur
- Chiense players occupy four of the top five places on the leaderboard
China’s Lin Yuxin, 17, won the ninth Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at Royal Wellington Golf Club to become the first champion in the history of the event to secure a place in The Open.
Lin will compete in The 147th Open at Carnoustie next year and also secured a place in the 2018 Masters Tournament.
In front of large crowds, the left-hander birdied the 17th hole and eagled the 18th to card a six-under-par 65 and finish 14-under, three ahead of compatriot Andy Zhang (67), who was rewarded with a place in The Open Qualifying Series.
Yuan Yechun (68) and Australia’s Min Woo Lee (71) – younger brother of LPGA star Minjee Lee – shared third place at seven-under, one ahead of 2015 champion Jin Cheng (65), also of China.
The Beijing-based Lin, who turned 17 on October 12, is the third Chinese player to win the championship following victories by Guan Tianlang in 2012, aged 14, and Jin, who was 17 when he won.
“I’m very, very happy I got the chance to win this event and play two majors,” said Lin, who trailed Zhang for much of the round. “I’m very proud of myself. It means a lot to me to play in the Masters and The Open next year. It’s a great experience.”
“Andy played really solid today,” Lin said. “He didn’t make a single mistake until 15. His iron shots were really good and he made a lot of putts. I actually thought it might not be my day, but I had a good finish.
“I was just trying to stay aggressive and hit as many drivers as I could. Even though I wasn;t playing that well for 12 holes, I still stuck with that plan. Andy is a very steady player but I had to stay aggressive and get birdies.”
Zhang and Lin were level with two holes to play but the latter drove the green at the 361-yard, par-four 17th to set up a tap-in birdie. On the par-five 18th, he smashed his drive down the middle of the fairway then watched as his stunning five-iron from 216 yards landed just six feet from the flag, holing the putt for an eagle three and punching the air in victory.
“I was definitely trying to drive it on the green at 17 and put some pressure on Andy,” Lin said. “I hit a really good drive pin high so I was pretty satisfied.
“On 18, I was going to hit a four-iron because it was a bit into the wind but then I thought it might roll over the green, so I hit a five. I thought it was a bit short but it turned out that it was pretty good.”
Zhang, who competed in the U.S. Open at the age of 14, was playing with Lin for the first time in competition and was full of praise for his younger compatriot.
“For Lin Yuxin to finish three-three-three and to match the course record, you can’t really argue with that,” said Zhang, who has been based in Florida since he was ten. “He played very well and I needed my best but I didn’t have my absolute best.”
“It shows you how good China is getting at golf,” Zhang explained. “The next generation is coming up and China will be a big country up there.”
Nick Voke, New Zealand’s top-ranked amateur, carded a 69 to finish three-under and was among four locals to finish in the top ten.
“What an absolutely incredible week, right from the start,” Voke said. “Words can’t do justice to how good it was. I was talking to Frank Nobilo last night and we were talking about playing in your home country, playing in front of all the crowds and having such a prestigious event come here. It was incredible, not only for myself and the team, but for the country. You should have seen the crowds out there today and yesterday. Words can’t describe it.”
Royal Wellington’s Daniel Hiller was New Zealand’s top finisher, sharing sixth place at five-under with Chinese Taipei’s Yu Chun-an and Australia’s Shae Wools-Cobb. Kerry Mountcastle, also a Royal Wellington member, was alone in ninth at four-under.
The AAC is organised by three Founding Partners – the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, the Masters Tournament and The R&A. This week’s event featured 116 players from 38 APGC member associations. Television coverage included three hours of live broadcast on each of the four days and a 30-minute highlights show, and was aired in more than 160 countries, once again making it the world’s most televised amateur golf tournament.
For more information, please visit www.AACgolf.com.