Shohei Hasegawa of Japan and Lee Chang-woo of South Korea battled 25 mph gusts and temperatures in the mid-50s to share the lead going into the final two rounds of the Asia-Pacific Amateur.
At stake is a spot in the Masters for the winner, along with an exemption into a final qualifying event for the British Open.
Hasegawa, a 21-year-old student at Osaka Gakuin University, had three birdies for a 1-under 70. Lee was even more impressive by running off 15 consecutive pars and then a birdie on the 16th hole at Nanshan International, giving him a two-shot lead. He bogeyed his last two holes to fall into a tie with Hasegawa.
They were at even-par 142, an indication of the demanding conditions.
Guan Tianlang, the defending champion who made the cut at the Masters this year, celebrated his 15th birthday on Friday with a second straight 74. That left the Chinese teen six shots behind. In this weather, the winner could be the player who loses the least amount of ground over the final 36 holes of stroke play.
”If the conditions stay the same, I don’t think really low scores are possible,” said Hasegawa, who has made the cut in three Japan Golf Tour events this year. ”The key is knowing which holes to attack and which holes to be conservative.”
Dou Zecheng, the first-round leader, had a 75 and was one shot behind along with Lee Soo-min of South Korea (70) and Kazuya Koura of Japan, whose 69 was the low score of the second round.
Hasegawa is not the only player at Nanshan International who has experience on the pro tours. Lee tied for second last week with Rory McIlroy in the Korea Open. He had the lead to himself until missing short par putts on the last two holes.
”Everything was going so well, but I kind of messed up at the end,” Lee said. ”But I came here with the aim of winning the tournament and it’s just about trying to be comfortable.”
Among those within three shots of the lead were a pair of Australians – Oliver Goss, who already has earned a trip to the Masters as the U.S. Amateur runner-up, and Brady Watt, a semifinalist at the U.S. Amateur.
The cut was at 17-over 159, eight shots higher than the previous record for the Asia-Pacific Amateur. Sixty-one players qualified for the final two rounds.