Shanghai [CHINA]: Ervin Chang is relishing the chance of contending for the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) after opening his 2019 campaign in solid fashion on Thursday.
Playing in the afternoon in perfect conditions, the 21-year-old took advantage of a hot start and three birdies in his closing five holes to sign for a four-under 68 at the Sheshan Golf Club.
It left Malaysia’s top-ranked amateur in a share of third with six others, five strokes adrift of Australian Blake Windred, whose scintillating 63 was the lowest first round score in the championship’s 11-year history.
Korea’s Junhong Park – who was a late entry to the tournament – showed no signs of nerves as he too turned in a bogey-free round, shooting a seven-under-par 65 to sit alone in second.
Chang started brightly with birdies in his opening two holes and made some good par saves to make the turn on 34. He dropped his only shot of the day on 12 but recovered superbly, stringing together birdies on 14, 16 and 17 before missing a chip-in birdie attempt on the last.
“Overall, I think I played well today. I started pretty good, I made two early birdies at the start, and things went pretty steady from there I missed a couple of birdies here and there, but also I made some good par saves as well. I missed my eagle putt on 16 and made birdie on 17 from 18ft, I was hoping to make a birdie on 18 too but got into some trouble off the tee and fortunately, saved par there as well,” said Chang.
Despite only having a single practice round, he credited a strong recovery game in tackling the notoriously challenging Sheshan tract with its undulating tree-lined fairways, raised greens and strategic hazards.
“The rough here are very thick and not easy to hit out from, so I had to place my shots at the best possible position for me to save par at least. I knew I have to keep my ball in play today to at least play well. I’m still feeling myself around the tract and even when I got into some trouble, I looked at it as an opportunity to learn as well.”
With a morning start on Friday, Chang hopes his body clock will start adapting to the time change as soon as possible.
“Sleep has been a little off the last few days – I wake up a couple of times in the middle of the night. Today, I woke up at 6 am and couldn’t go back to bed again. So, I decided to go for breakfast and do a little workout to get my body limber before the round, and it worked. I still plan on hitting the sack early tonight and just get into my sleeping rhythm.”
The other three Malaysians in the 120-player field endured contrasting starts. Debutant Malcolm Ting battled back to a 73 while Rhaasrikanesh Kanavathi, who is making his second appearance, posted a 77. Adam Arif Madzri – playing in his first AAC – struggled to an uncharacteristic 83.
with quotes by Joy Chakravathy in Shanghai, China