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Chinese teen takes lead in Asia Pacific Amateur
LONGKOU CITY, CHINA (AP) - Chinese teenager Dou Zecheng handled the chill and the wind for a 3-under 68 on Thursday to take a two-shot lead after the opening round of the Asia-Pacific Amateur.
The winner gets an invitation to the Masters and a spot in the final stage of British Open qualifying.
Guan Tianlang won the Asia-Pacific last year and the made the cut at the Masters, becoming at 14 the youngest player to make the cut in a 72-hole major. The 16-year-old Dou can only hope he’s the next Chinese tee to get to Augusta National.
“I think I’ve improved a lot from last year, so I feel pretty confident this time,” said Dou, who tied for 18th in the Asia-Pacific Amateur. “I missed a couple of birdie chances, but I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job. At the beginning it was very windy and cold, but I started to warm up and just played better and better.”
Guan struggled to a 74 and was six shots behind.
Lee Chang-woo of South Korea had a 70, while U.S. Amateur semifinalist Brady Watt of Australia was another shot behind.
Lee tied for second, along with two-time major champion Rory McIlroy, at the Korea Open last week. He started on the tougher back nine at Nanshan and had a bogey on the 13th hole before bouncing back with a pair of birdies.
“I’m pretty much happy with my score because I was in some dangerous situations where I had to make a few 6- and 7-footers for par,” Lee said. “The course is very long and it was very windy. … It was a good score in the circumstances.”
Watt also got off to a shaky start, teeing off at No. 10. He was 2-over through four holes before an eagle on the par-5 15th got him back on track. Watt played the opening round with Guan, who was 1-under at the turn until a double bogey on the seventh when he drove into a hazard, and a bogey on his final hole.
“I felt like I played OK,” Guan said. “I missed a few chances but overall I’m quite happy. I have the confidence to go out and shoot a better score tomorrow.”
The Asia-Pacific Amateur is 72 holes of stroke play.
By Tammy Bruce
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