HONG KONG (AP) – Jin Cheng had four birdies and an eagle in a five-hole span on the way to a tournament-record 8-under 62 Thursday and a two-stroke lead after the weather-affected opening day of the Asia-Pacific Amateur.
The tournament champion receives an invitation to next year's Masters. The champion and runner-up receive a place in the final round of qualifying for the British Open at Royal Troon.
The 17-year-old Chinese player, among the early starters after a 90-minute lightning and rain delay at the par-70 Clearwater Bay course, birdied the 17th and eagled the 18th after starting on the 10th hole. He then birdied the first three holes on the front nine and added birdies on 5 and 7 before a five-foot par save on his last hole for his best career round.
It was also the lowest single-round score in the seven-year history of the tournament and a record for the Clearwater Bay course.
Jin leads Gregory Foo of Singapore (64) and Nick Voke of New Zealand, who was among nearly 30 golfers who did not complete the first round because of the late start. Voke was at 6 under with one hole to complete on Friday morning after bogeying his last hole Thursday.
On the ninth, his final hole, Jin checked with the television broadcaster and officials to make sure he had correctly marked his ball on the green. Jin had to move his coin marker out of playing partner Ryan Ruffels' line and was unsure if he put it back properly, but officials ruled he had.
"I only missed one fairway, and my irons were really good today," Jin said.
Ruffels, an Australian who is the highest-ranked amateur in the tournament at No. 8, shot 69.
Defending champion Antonio Murdaca of Australia, who won by seven shots last year at Royal Melbourne, played in the same group as 2012 champion Guan Tianlang of China and former British Open junior champion Kenta Konishi of Japan. Guan and Konishi shot 68s while Murdaca had a 69 as the group just beat the fading light.
On Thursday, organizers announced the dates and venues for the next two Asia-Pacific Amateurs – from Oct. 6-9, 2016, at the Jack Nicklaus Club in Incheon, South Korea, which will host the Presidents Cup at the end of next week, and New Zealand's Royal Wellington Golf Club from Oct. 26-29, 2017.
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