Debutant Krishnav Nikhil Chopraa shot five birdies against one bogey and a double to be placed Tied-20th, the best among seven Indians, on the opening day of the 13th Asia Pacific Amateur Championships, on Thursday. Two trips into the water midway through the round blotted Chopraa’s card that, otherwise, looked impressive. The 17-year-old, who spells his second name with an extra ‘a’, was five shots behind the leader, China’s Bo Jin (65) when the round ended at the Amata Spring Country Club.
It was disappointment for other Indians as Shat Mishra (73) was next best at Tied 50th. Rayhan Thomas, Arjun Gupta and Milind Soni, with 74 each, were Tied 61st, Aryan Roopa Anand (75) was Tied 74th and Shaurya Bhattacharya (76) was Tied 80th. The Top-50 and ties will make the cut.
The first day leader Bo Jin began the day with a bogey, but did not put a foot wrong thereafter closing with 7-under 65. He had six birdies and an eagle after that for a two-shot lead at the end of the first day.
Bo, whose brother, Cheng, won the championship in 2015, has finished third and eighth in his previous two starts at the event.
On a low-scoring day, when preferred lies were allowed following overnight rain, Bo was followed by Singaporean James Leow, who missed a Korn Ferry Tour card by two shots, and 15-year-old Thai sensation ‘TK’ Ratchanon Chantananuwat, who has won a pro event on Asian Tour. Leow and ‘TK’ shot 67 each.
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The confident Chopraa, who joined the Long Beach State University in the US this year and has already helped his college team win some important matches, said, “I started off with a birdie and hit my driver on fairway about 90 yards in to the pin. I left it about 15-20 feet short but made the putt.” “I was 3-under through 7. On 8 I hit a bad tee shot into the water and on 9 again hit into the water. But after that I bounced back. My dad was on the bag. We knew that on the back nine we could recover. I had a good recovery on the back nine, it was bogey free.” With his father, Nikhil Chopra, a former India cricketer, taking time off cricket commentary by his side as a caddie, Chopraa got off to a flying start with a birdie on his very first hole.
His other birdies came on third, seventh, 11th and 12th. There were some birdie chances in the last six holes, which he could not convert, but he steered the ship clear without any further mishap for a 70.
Giving his father a thumbs up, Chopraa added, “He’s pretty good with the lines. He’s a golfer, too. He knew what he was doing and he helped me with a few putts. Kept me hydrated. Kept me laughing even after hitting the bogey and double bogey.” Chopraa’s father was bursting with pride.
“This is his moment but I wanted to be right next to him. Ours has been a sporting family and for me to play here is a very proud moment. So, I took a week off from commentary duties at the World Cup in Australia to be here,” said the senior Chopra.
Thomas, runner-up in 2018, was 1-under through 15 before he dropped a shot on 16th and then found water from the middle of the fairway for a double bogey in a card of 74.
Arjun Gupta rallied from 3-over after three to even after 13, only to drop shots on 15th and 16th and finish 2-over.
Shat Mishra, who was in the first group out from 10th, was even par after 13 holes but then came up with two birdies and three bogeys, including on eighth and ninth, his closing holes.
The 120-man field has players from 38 countries and territories and players whose ages range from 14 to 60.
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