Upbeat Chang stays in the hunt

AAC Golf
Ervin Chang hits a snap hook on the 18th during the second round of the 2019 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship

Shanghai [CHINA]: Ervin Chang remained bullish on the prospect of a title push at the 11th Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) despite a roller-coaster performance on Friday.

The top-ranked Malaysian amateur trails halfway leader Blake Windred of Australia by five shots after battling to a one-under 71 at the Sheshan Golf Club.

Two-over at the turn, Chang – a senior at the Liberty University – rallied with three birdies in a flawless back nine display.

He is in a six-way tie for fifth place at five-under-par, which includes 2017 champion Yuxin Lin of China (71).

Joining Chang in the weekend rounds is AAC rookie Malcolm Ting, who survives the halfway cut with a five-over total, on the back of rounds of 73 and 76.

It was, however, the end of the road for two other Malaysians in the 120-player field with Rhaasrikanesh Kanavathi settling for a share of 69th on 11-over and debutant Adam Arif Madzri a further shot back in joint 73rd.

Chang, who started from the 10th tee, was two-over par after his first 11 holes with two birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey. The 21-year-old turned his fortune around with birdies on 3 and 5 before gaining another shot, converting a tricky 18-feet birdie on the difficult par-four ninth.

“A couple of poor drives and unlucky bounces mid-way through the first nine probably derailed my round a bit today. Overall, it was a pretty decent round, but I could have done better. I didn’t capitalise on some of the shorter holes and left some birdies out there,” said Chang.

“The conditions were almost the same [as Thursday], but there were a couple of tough pin positions. Personally, I felt that I was trying to close the gap with the leader early on and piled on some unnecessary pressure on myself. After that bad stretch, I calmed down a bit and gave myself some looks. That birdie on the last was satisfying because I had just missed back-back opportunities before that.

Chang was delighted with his position going into the weekend, which leaves him not only on course to best his seventh placing in Singapore last year but the possibility of a podium finish, if not the win.

“Five strokes behind, it’s not impossible, but I have to grind out a low round tomorrow if I want to give myself a shot on Sunday. It’s an elite field and the person who makes the least mistakes at the business end of the week is going to take it. I have to keep it simple and draw on my experience in chasing down the leaders.”