Sports

It’s back to school and homework, for champ Yuxin

V Krishnaswamy Shanghai | Updated on September 30, 2019 Published on September 30, 2019

Lin Yuxin   -  David Paul Morris

China’s Lin Yuxin, who turns 19 in three weeks, will get to go to the Masters and the Open a second time in 2020 but before that, tonight, instead of celebrating his second Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) win, he has school homework to do. He is only the second player after Hideki Matsuyama to win the AAC twice.

Yuxin, a freshman at the University of California, playing in third from last group, shot 68 while defending champion Takumi Kanaya carded 69. Both were tied at 10-under 278 before Yuxin beat Kanaya on the second play-off hole, getting a birdie both times, while the Japanese player failed to match him on the second attempt.

India’s Kartik Sharma failed to make a charge on the final day and instead slipped as he carded a closing four-over 76 and finished tied-22nd. Sharma, who shot 68-67 on second and third days, ended at four-under 284. Harshjeet Singh Sethie (76) was T-60 while Rayhan Thomas (83), runner-up in 2018, and Girraj Khadka (80) were T-62.

All’s well that ends well

Yuxin showed a special love-hate relationship with the 18th hole as he went into the water on the 18th three times in the last three days, coming out with bogey, double bogey and bogey. In the play-off when it mattered most, he birdied it twice despite having a terrible lie the first time and getting into the bunker a second time. A brilliant second shot in the first extra hole and a great third shot to eight feet in the second extra hole fetched him a birdie both times.

Thai Tanapat Pichaikool (65) and Chinese Taipei’s Yung-hua Liu (71), who in the morning made a big charge, were tied third at 9-under, while Chun An Yu (68), Singaporean James Leow (69), who had two eagles on back nine, and Ren Yonezawa (72) were tied fifth at 8-under.

Yuxin, asked about his blow hot-blow cold relationship with 18th, smiled and said, “I was having a little trouble with No 18 three days in a row. We know there’s extra holes coming up. Stepping on 18 was not a great feeling for me, and especially that lie on the tee shot, the first hole. Definitely not the lie that you want, but at least everything turned out pretty well, so I’m pretty satisfied.”

He added, “To be honest, I don't really know what’s going on with that hole. If I knew what was going on, would have saved me a couple shots in the round.”

‘Cool for an Asian dad’

On how he would celebrate, Yuxin, who has already played in 43 pro events on various tours as an amateur, laughed and said, “Meet a few friends, but I have tonnes of homework to do, so I need to finish that, too.”

As for going back to school as a champion going to two majors next year, he said, “That will be cool. But I want to do better than what I did last time (he missed cut in both),” said Yuxin, who had his father on the bag.

Does the dad get the job again? “I don’t think so,” he said, while describing his father as “cool for an Asian dad”. The AAC winner earns an invitation to the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club and a place in the 149th Open at Royal St George’s in 2020, provided he retains his amateur status. The runner(s)-up will gain a spot in the Open Qualifying Series.

Yuxin, who went to an American school in China beginning in fourth grade, speaks fluent English and came to the US two years ago to work with instructor Boyd Summerhays.

Yuxin, at 18, may be the most experienced player in the amateur game with no less than 42 appearances in pro events on virtually every tour of the world, ranging from the PGA to the China Tour. Now he gets to go back to the Masters at Augusta next April and the Open at Royal St. Georges next July, for a second time in three years.

But for now, it is back to school, some celebration and a lot of homework.

Published on September 30, 2019
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