Milind Soni beats food poisoning to make cut at Asia-Pacific Amateur

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16-year-old Milind Soni went into the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship on the heels of a bout of food poisoning.
16-year-old Milind Soni went into the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship on the heels of a bout of food poisoning.

Three of the seven Indians progressed into the final rounds of the Asia Pacific Amateur Golf Championship. Leading the way was Shubham Jaglan, who went into the tournament without having seen the course fully, while 16-year-old Milind Soni making his first trip outside India also overcame a bout of food poisoning. Joining them for the last two rounds was Akshay Neranjan, who bounced back from a first round disappointment to make the cut.

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Jaglan, who is at the University of South Florida and flew in from the United States, shot 70-68 and is T-15th up from T-24th a day earlier. Soni (71-69) is T-22nd while Akshay Neranjan (74-69) at T-41st also made the cut.

With only Top-50 and ties making the cut Rohan Dhole Patil (72-73) bogeyed the 18th and fell outside the cutline by one. He was Tied-51st  Also missing the cut were Arkesh Bhatia (74-72), who was T-55th, while Aryan Roopa Anand (75-73) and Arjun Gupta (75-73) were T-58th.

China’s Bo Jin became the sole leader on the strength of his superb 7-under 64 and he is 8-under for 36 holes. He shot 70 on the first day. Bo’s brother Jin Cheng won the AAC in 2015 and Bo accompanied him to Augusta. Now he wants to go and play there. He was also helped on course knowledge by India’s Rayhan Thomas, who is Bo’s teammate at University of Oklahoma. Thomas, runner-up at 2018 AAC, holds the course record of 61 at Dubai Creek.

Five players including World No. 1 amateur, Keita Nakajima (67-68), one of the seven overnight leaders, were second one shot behind. The others are Korea’s Kim Baekjun, Sam Choi and Cho Wooyoung and Australian Connor McKinney. Two-time champion Yuxin Lin (67-71) double bogeyed the last and fell to T-15.

Jaglan could not practice on Tuesday because he had to wait for his Covid test. By the time he got the negative result, the light did not allow much practice and he played just one hole.

The 16-year-old Soni on the other hand had food poisoning and he was helped by the fact his tee time was late on Wednesday. “I just wanted to complete 18 holes,” said Soni about the first day. He added 69 on the second day to his first round 71 from the first day.

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Jaglan, who had five birdies against two bogeys, said, “The round was pretty good. I got to play yesterday (first round) so I was so used to the tee shot and the wind was down as well and rough is not punishing. I also felt my putting was way better than yesterday. The greens were a little faster today, which I liked, because most of the college events are played on fast greens. So I felt more comfortable.”

He added, “I’m really enjoying my experience here so far. The jet lag is sort of fading away now and I’m feeling a lot healthy too.”

Soni said, “Feeling weak because I was unwell earlier, I lost a few yards off the tee. On the first day my first goal was to complete 18 holes and I got a par round. Today, I could have played better than 2-under, it should have been three or four under. I missed a few putts. I am feeling very tired but way better than the first day.”

Neranjan who was in the danger after a card of 74 on first day, was the third Indian to shoot in the 60s with a 2-under 69 with five birdies, four of them on back nine, against three bogeys. He also made the cut.

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Leader Bo Jin said, “I have learned a lot from Cheng (his brother), but when we get to the golf course, I definitely want to beat him. When he won the championship, I was so excited because it meant that I could go to the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club with him. I get plenty of good insight into life and golf from him,” said Bo Jin, who made five birdies on the back nine.

“And Rayhan is a great guy, and a very good friend of mine. We sat down before coming here and he gave me a lot of good advice, like how grainy the greens become and how to putt on them. And how the course is rather short, and why I should practice my wedges more than my long irons. It definitely played a role in my round today.

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