Sizzling Afif goes low to lift Malaysia

Muhd Afif Mohd Fathi reacts to his ninth birdie of the day on the closing hole ©Mike Casper|The ClubHouse

Kajang [SELANGOR]: Debutant Muhammad Afif Mohd Fathi gave hosts Malaysia a much needed lift on moving day with a blistering personal effort at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Golf Team Championship for the Nomura Cup.

The reigning national junior champion went on a birdie binge, equalling the tournament’s low round of eight-under 64 on a wet Sungai Long Golf & Country Club.

Afif’s effort, which left him third overall in the individual standings, helped Malaysia move into a share of ninth alongside India on 11-under 637.

His namesake – Muhammad Afif Mohd Razif – displayed much grit as he birdied the closing hole to sign for an even-par 72 while Rhaasrikanesh Kanavathi and skipper Chan Tuck Soon returned matching 74s. Only the best three scores count towards a team’s daily overall.

Thailand stayed on course to lift the prestigious championship for the first time, extending their lead over titleholders Japan to 11 strokes.

Kammalas Namuangruk fired his second 64 of the tournament while reigning Malaysian Amateur Open champion Sadom Kaewkanjana added a solid three-under 69. South East Asia (SEA) Games gold medallist Kosuke Hamamoto shot a 71 to secure a 15-under 201 haul for the War Elephants.

South Korea (621) are 17 strokes off the pace while 10-time winners Australia are a further shot back in fourth in the 23-nation meet.

Leading third round scores (Par-72) 
604 – 🇹🇭 Thailand 204-199-201
615 – 🇯🇵 Japan 209-204-202
621 – 🇰🇷 Republic of Korea 207-205-209
622 – 🇦🇺 Australia 211-202-209
626 – 🇳🇿 New Zealand 204-211-211, 🇹🇼 Chinese Taipei 206-208-212
635 – 🇮🇩 Indonesia 210-206-219
636 – 🇨🇳 China 213-208-215
637 – 🇲🇾 MALAYSIA 211-216-210, 🇮🇳 India 215-209-213

Muhd Afif Mohd Fathi is making his senior debut for the country ©Mike Casper|The ClubHouse

Afif only received a call-up after national number one and two Galven Kendall Green and Ervin Chang declined to play due to collegiate commitments in the United States.

But the 17-year-old is proving that he is no makeshift, with a confident putting display that yielded nine birdies on Saturday – his only blemish of the day coming due to a poor chip on par-three eight.

“I hit 17 greens in regulation, so for sure the confident is growing day-by-day. My shot making was quite honestly, flawless today. I was able to place the ball where I wanted on the greens, most often that not leaving myself with short, uphill birdie putts.

“Yesterday, I was putting alright but my reads were a little off. Today, I got both of it right and the score reflects it,” said Afif, who is just three shots behind Kammalas for the medalist honor.

“I was hoping to finish inside the top-ten [of the individual standings]. Took a glance at the leaderboard and it’s nice to be right in the mix. But the team comes first and the goal tomorrow is to put another good number on the board and motivate my team mates to do better,” he added.