Resurgent Khai Jei back in the mix

Low Khai Jei
Low Khai Jei

HONG KONG: Patience proved a big virtue for national top amateur Low Khai Jei as he scaled the leaderboard with a second round five-under 65 at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) on Friday.

Shrugging of a bogey on the opening hole, the 19-year-old fired four birdies and an eagle to post a four-under 136 overall at the wind-swept Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club to lie six strokes adrift of halfway leader Cheng Jin of China.

Chan Tuck Soon – the best placed Malaysian overnight – scrambled hard to return with a one-over 71, to stay just behind Low in a share for 19th.

Despite a second round two-over 72, debutant Daeng Abdul Rahman Abdul Aziz will see action over the weekend after surviving the halfway cut right at the mark with a three-over 143 total.

Low, whose previous best finish in the tournament was tied-12th in 2011, was pleased with his effort as he put Thursday’s listless putting display behind him.

“I’m really happy with that effort because I wasn’t too happy to be flirting with the cut, to be honest. I think my expectations got in the way and I was just a little too eager over my putts yesterday.

“I felt that the birdies will come if I stayed patient and there was no point in rushing myself because in this windy conditions, things can get tricky if you make a wrong shot,” said the former Malaysian junior champion.

Low took some time to find his momentum before carding three birdies in a space of five holes to turn in on 30. He gained a further two shots with an eagle putt from 10 feet on the 15th before sealing a brilliant round with a birdie on the last.

“Once I got the birdies before the turn, I felt that I was swinging it solidly and tried to be a little more aggressive. It resulted in a nice eagle on the 15th and a birdie to finish the round, which sets me perfectly for the weekend. If I keep my head straight tomorrow, I  can shoot another low round and probably target a leaderboard finish,” he added.

Chan traded three birdies with four bogeys but was ruing a missed birdie putt on the closing hole, which would have saw him finish even-par for the day.

“The blustery conditions in the morning made for a tough day in the office and I dropped two shots in the first four holes. I managed to recoup that early deficit but a loss of concentration just after the turn saw me concede two further bogeys. Scrambled strongly on the back nine but fell short of birdieing the last, which was pretty frustrating,” said the 21-year-old INTI International University student.