China’s Lin Yuxin won himself an invitation to the 2018 Masters and a place in the Open Championship at Carnoustie next July with an impressive three-shot victory in the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at Royal Wellington.
Lin, 17, closed with a course record-matching 65 to finish on 14-under-par, leading a Chinese sweep of four of the top five places. Compatriot Andy Zhang finished off with a 67 to claim sole second on 11-under-par, four shots ahead of another Chinese player Yuan Yechun and Australia’s Lee Min Woo. 2015 champion Jin Cheng, who also hails from the Middle Kingdom, settled for fifth place on six-under-par after matching Lin’s record score.
With large crowds flocking to Royal Wellington, the left-handed Lin birdied the 17th and eagled the closing hole to become the third Chinese player to win the championship, emulating Guan Tianlang (2012) and Jin.
“I’m very happy I got the chance to win this event and play two majors. It means a lot to me to play in the Masters and The Open next year. It’s a great experience,” said Lin, who trailed Zhang for much of the final round.
“Andy played really solid today. His iron shots were really good and he made a lot of putts. I actually thought it might not be my day but I had a good finish,” he added.
Zhang, a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Florida, looked to be in control when he birdied 13 for a two-shot lead. But Lin made a crucial birdie at the next hole and when Zhang bogeyed 15, the pair were tied at 11-under with three to play.
Lin drove the green at the par-four 17th and two-putted for birdie, then nailed his second shot at the par-five 18th to six feet of the flag and made the putt for eagle.
The Florida-based Zhang paid tribute to his young compatriot and the new generation of Chinese golfers.
“It shows you how good China is getting at golf. The next generation is coming up and China will be a big country in golf soon,” said Zhang, who won a place in The Open Qualifying Series.
Results (Top 10 and ties):
270 (-14) – Lin Yuxin (CHN) 69-67-69-65
273 (-11) – Andy Zhang (CHN) 69-70-67-67
277 (-7) – Yuan Yechun (CHN) 74-66-69-68, Lee Min Woo (AUS) 67-68-71-71
278 (-6) – Jin Cheng (CHN) 73-73-67-65
279 (-5) – Yu Chun-an (TPE) 73-71-68-67, Daniel Hillier (NZL) 70-73-68-68, Shae Wools-Cobb (AUS) 63-74-71-71
280 (-4) – Kerry Mountcastle (NZL) 69-70-70-71
281 (-3) – Harrison Endycott (AUS) 70-71-74-66, Ryan Chisnall (NZL) 74-73-67-67, Kosuke Hamamoto (THA) 72-73-69-67, Nick Voke (NZL) 67-72-73-69