Contributed by Zal Dastur
Singapore Island Country Club, Saturday, October 1, 2011 — Singapore’s Choo Tze Huang, 24, found himself in joint 11th place with one day left to go in the Asian Amateur Championship. Tze Huang shot a day three score of 212, four-under par.
Obviously exasperated after today’s round, Tze Huang said: “I did not tee off very well. I had to grind my way through the greens the whole day, plus I had a bad start.
“It was not the elements but just myself to blame. It was one of those days when things did not pan out well for me. It was frustrating, most frustrating actually, and very disappointing.
“I don’t think I contributed much, I am just glad that our boys have been playing well for the past few days. This proves that our amateur golf is improving, and we have strong players in our ranks to date.”
Defending champion Hideki Matsuyama produced a sensational record equalling low round but it still was not enough to lead the tournament going into the final round.
Seven birdies in a blemish free round saw the Japanese star light up the tournament after a day that began with severe weather delays. As the weather cleared it seemed to step the play up a level as the cream of Asian golf traded birdies during an absorbing third round.
However, it is 20-year-old Ben Campbell who goes into the final round as the leader. A birdie at the last gave him a round of 69 and a one-shot lead over Matsuyama at 14-under par.
But things looked far from certain after Campbell, who made the cut at least week’s Asia Pacific Open in Japan, after a poor approach into the water on the 12th hole led to a double bogey six.
At the same time Matsuyama was in the process of shooting a six-under par back nine that resulted in a tournament equalling low of 65. The 20-year-old from Tohoku Fukushi University — who narrowly missed an eight-foot birdie putt on the 18th — has become something of a Saturday specialist as he also shot 65 on the Saturday in last year’s competition. He also shot a third round 67 at this year’s Masters Tournament on his way to winning the Silver Cup for low amateur.
Campbell said: “I saw a leader board on the par-five 16th, but I just ignored it, I don’t like to look at the leader board while I am playing. I just like to play my own game and focus on that, I don’t want to pay attention to what anyone else is doing on the course. I try to shoot the best that I can, if it is good enough it is good enough, and if it’s not then it’s not.
“I finished birdie, par, birdie, so that wasn’t too bad. I had a disappointing double when I was at 14 under so it would have been nice to keep my low round going, but we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
Campbell, who underwent surgery on his foot just seven weeks ago, estimated that he may need to get to 20-under par to win the tournament. However, he insisted that he will not be intimidated playing with Matsuyama in tomorrow’s final group.
“He is just another player in the tournament,” he explained. “I just want to keep going out there and do what I’ve been doing for the last couple of days. We will see how it all ends up tomorrow.”
Matsuyama, 19, played down his performance, which included birdies at holes 3, 6, 11, 13, 14, 16 and 17, claiming to be disappointed in himself.
“I think I was lucky, I don’t think I played as well as my first round,” he said referring to the 67 he shot on Thursday. “In fact I don’t think I played as well as I’d liked to today. I am hoping to manage my play better for Sunday.”
One thing he was clear on was what will be motivating him during tomorrow’s final round, which gets underway with a two tee start at 8am.
“Last year I did not know much of the pressure because I have never been to an Asian Amateur Championship, there was no pressure at all,” Matsuyama, who has a college teammate caddying for him this week, explained.
“However this year, I want to overcome that because I really want to go back to Augusta really bad. There were too many emotions going around in today’s play but I will have to manage that better tomorrow – I will try to enjoy the pressure tomorrow.
“I have nothing special strategy wise, I think all the players will get a lot of pressure coming into Sunday but this is normal. For my own strategy, I like to focus on my own game.”