Jin wins weather-hit Asia Pacific Amateur

Cheng Jin of China holds the Masters and Open flag and poses with the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship trophy ©Alex Liew|AAC
Cheng Jin of China holds the Masters and Open flags behind the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship trophy ©Alex Liew|AAC

HONG KONG: China’s Cheng Jin was crowned champion of the 2015 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) after Sunday’s final round was called off due to a lengthy weather suspension.

The first group teed off as scheduled at 6:40 am with nine groups making it on course for the start of the fourth round before play was subsequently suspended at 7:41 am.

With conditions not improving by midday, Jin – the 54-hole leader at 11-under-par – emerged the winner ahead of joint runners-up, Ryan Ruffels and Cameron Davis of Australia, who were a shot back.

“It is extremely disappointing that we are not able to complete the final round of this year’s Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship,” said Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation chairman David Cherry.

“It was a very difficult decision to make as we wanted to see the completion of 72 holes as much as all the competitors did. The competition committee was committed to completing the final round on Sunday if at all possible, however the extreme weather conditions meant that completing in daylight would not be possible.”

The Chinese number one amateur managed to retain his place at the top of the leaderboard at the end of round three thanks to a superbly judged chip at the par-five closing hole, which he converted for what proved to be a tournament-winning birdie.

The win means the Beijing native becomes the second player from China to lift the AAC trophy following the triumph of Guan Tianlang in 2012.

“This win just came so fast and so sudden. I was ready for the final round today but unfortunately the weather didn’t work out. Nonetheless, it is a real pleasure to win this week and I really enjoyed this tournament, which is one of my favourite events annually,” said the 17-year-old, who has a previous win on the PGA Tour China series.

Jin excelled throughout the championship, after a record breaking eight-under-par 62 on the first day, followed by rounds of 68 and 69.

“Well, that’s my lowest tournament score ever, and I think it proved pivotal for this win,” added Jin.

His reward is a start at the Masters Tournament next spring and a more immediate invite to the Thailand Golf Championship this December, which also doubles up as an Open Qualifying Series event.

By virtue of their second-place finishes, Ruffels and Davis, long-time friends and Australian teammates, will also receive spots in the Series.

Although Ruffels, the highest-ranked player in the field, was clearly disappointed not to have had the opportunity to play on Sunday, the 17-year-old was full of praise for Jin’s performance in a post-round press conference he shared with Davis.

“It’s not hard to tell that we’re both pretty gutted,” said Ruffels, who narrowly missed a 12-foot eagle chance on the final green in the third round that would have lifted him up alongside Jin at 11-under. “Obviously there’s nothing we can do about the situation. The tournament did great in just trying to get us out there today. [But] credit to Jin; he played amazing this week. To back up 8-under with those two rounds in some tough conditions … He’s a great golfer and even better guy, and I’m sure he’s going to enjoy the experiences he gets from winning this tournament.”

Malaysia’s best finisher was Chan Tuck Soon, who was tied-27th with an even-par 210 overall.

Leading final results (Par-70)>
199 – Cheng Jin (CHN) 62-68-69
200 – Ryan Ruffels (AUS) 69-64-67, Cameron Davis (AUS) 69-64-67
202 – Chun-An Yu (TPE) 66-69-66, Tae Ho Kim (KOR) 66-68-68
203 – Antonio Murdaca (AUS) 69-70-64
204 – Sangchai Keawcharoen (THA) 67-70-67
205 – Lloyd Jefferson Go (PHI) 70-68-67, Joshua Munn (NZL) 69-69-67, Tae Koh (NZL) 71-67-67
206 – Sungho Yun (KOR) 69-69-68

Selected Malaysians:
210 – Chan Tuck Soon 66-71-73
216 – Low Khai Jei 71-65-80
226 – Daeng Abdul Rahman Abd Aziz 71-72-83