Jaglan finishes strong, Nakajima Asia-Pacific Amateur champ

Japan's Keita Nakajima is doused by teammates after winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Dubai on Saturday. Photo: AAC
Japan's Keita Nakajima is doused by teammates after winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Dubai on Saturday. Photo: AAC

Shubham Jaglan who flew in from University of South Florida and played the 12th Asia Pacific Amateur Championship without a practice round finished T11 at the event on Saturday.

Following up on his rounds of 70-68-69 he added a 69 to finish 8-under, after dropping two shots on the back nine. His finish of T11 with four under par round was the third best by an Indian at the AAC after Rayhan Thomas’ T2 in 2018 and Khalin Joshi’s T9 in 2010.

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Jaglan had four birdies but also missed a lot of putts. He had two dropped two shots like the previous three days.

World No. 1 amateur Keita Nakajima of Japan, a favourite before the event, was taken into the play-off by a surprise packet Taichi Kho of Hong Kong, who set the target of 14-under with a final round 65. Nakajima, despite not being able to find birdies in his last three holes, also finished at 14-under.

Nakajima earned himself a berth at the 2022 Masters and the 2022 Open Championship at St. Andrews by winning a play-off on the second extra hole over Kho, who turns 21 next Saturday.

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Apart from Jaglan two other two Indians made the cut. Milind Soni (76), who was indisposed before the start, did well to last four days. But he crumbled at the end with a bogey-triple bogey finish and was T41.  Akshay Neranjan (76) closed with a double bogey at the end to be T45.

Jaglan was set even for a top-5 as he was 3-under through 10 holes.

He said, “My game was really good for the first few holes. I was hitting it really close and gave myself a lot of good chances. So, I worked it to 3-under par through 10 but it was also frustrating because though I was giving myself a lot of good chances, I didn’t convert many putts. After the bogey on 13, I had a good look at 14 and did not make it – it was only six feet. And I three-putted 17 as well. So it was kind of a slow round. Yet overall I am happy.”

Jaglan said, “I will take the positives. It was a great week. I had a lot of fun playing with Jin Bo of China and Choi Wooyoung from Korea. I had some great conversations with them.

“This is the biggest tournament I’ve played in my career, and I’m very happy with the way I played and I felt calm throughout the four rounds. I expected to be more nervous to be honest. I hit some really good shots. Met some cool people. So I can’t really ask for much more.

Hong Kong’s Kho (65) lying T5 overnight turned in a six-hole run with five birdies between ninth and 14th and set the target of 14-under. Nakajima, who held a one-shot lead over two-time champion Yuxin Lin (71), also had a four-shot lead over Kho, who was not in the picture till the back nine. Nakajima birdied three times in the first five holes and seemed to be running away, but a bogey on sixth and a double on ninth set him back. He fought back superbly with birdies on 11, 13 and 15 to catch up with Kho.

Kho reached 14-under on the 14th but could not find any more birdies. A group behind him in the lead trio, Nakajima birdied the 15th to get level with him and he, too, was unable to add a birdie in the last three.

In the play-off Nakajima, who six weeks ago won a pro event on the Japan Tour, won on the second extra hole.

China’s Jin Bo (68), whose brother won AAC in 2015, and Korea’s Cho Wooyoung (65) were T3.

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