JAPAN’S MATSUYAMA TAKES THREE-SHOT LEAD AT ASIAN AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP
Tokyo, Japan – A stunning six-under-par 65 made in torrential conditions on the West Course at Kasumigaseki Country Club has given Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama the lead going into the final day of the 2010 Asian Amateur Championship. The 18-year-old from Ehime, which lies 900 kilometres south west of Tokyo, leads Tarquin MacManus of Australia by three strokes on a three-round total of 11-under-par 202.
He will begin his final round tomorrow at 10.30 am Japan time, earlier than planned, due to the likelihood of inclement weather over Kawagoe City tomorrow. The field will play in three-balls from both the first and 10th tees starting at 9 am.
Matsuyama, whose caddie this week is a friend, class-mate and scratch-handicapper from Tohoku Fukushi University, got off to an explosive start, making four birdies in his first five holes. A dropped shot at the seventh was recovered on the 443-yard, par-four ninth hole, before back-to-back birdies on 15 and 16 took him clear of his nearest challengers.
“It was difficult in the heavy rain, but fortunately I got off to a really good start,” he explained. “In those conditions, your body stiffens and your grip gets wet, so I was just trying to stay relaxed and keep my equipment dry.
“Even though I have a lead, I will not think about that and will just start fresh tomorrow. I’m going to try not to think about the prizes on offer because it might influence my game – I want to concentrate on individual strokes. But it would be wonderful to win, even though I would feel a bit out of my league.”
Alone in second place, MacManus signed for a second successive round of four-under-par 67 to leave him on a tournament total of 205, eight under par. The 21-year old, who is in his senior year at the University of Arizona, made four birdies, two on each nine, in his bogey-free third round. The Queenslander now finds himself three off the lead, and three ahead of third-placed Yosuke Asaji of Japan.
MacManus said: “I’m absolutely thrilled with four-under in these conditions. You have to concentrate so hard in the wet, which makes it tough. In these kinds of conditions, you just have to stay in the moment, not get head of yourself and not worry about the things you can’t control.
“You know of course that you would like to win, but it is an end result and I try not to focus on end results when I am playing.”
First-round leader Asaji, who attends the same high school from which Ryo Ishikawa recently graduated, slipped back slightly with a one-over-par 72, but he remains very much in contention, six strokes behind his compatriot.
“I was aiming to get below par for the first three holes and I did that, so the start was good, but it was really bad that I made that bogey on the seventh,” he said. “I had a bogey on the sixth, and then the one on the seventh meant I could not gather my thoughts. I was in doubt about what I should do when I made my strokes from then on, and I feel that was a big mistake.
“The possibility for me to win the tournament becomes very slim now, but if I can play as well as Matsuyama did today, then maybe a play-off is possible.”
Overnight leader Lam Zhiqun, however, had a day to forget, slipping back to an even-par total of 213 after today’s 78, seven over par. Having made five birdies and no bogeys yesterday, Lam’s fortunes reversed with the 21-year-old from Singapore failing to make a single Saturday birdie on the 7,068-yard (6,463-metre) West Course.
Live scores from the final round will be available on AsianAmateurChampionship.com, along with full hole-by-hole scores from the three previous rounds