INCHEON, South Korea — Australia’s Cameron Davis shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, with the winner Sunday getting a spot in the Masters next year at Augusta National.
The 21-year-old Davis, second behind China’s Jin Cheng last year in the rain-shortened tournament in Hong Kong, had eight birdies and a bogey at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club. Two weeks ago in Mexico, Davis led Australia to the World Amateur Team Championship and won the individual title.
“It was nice to play some really good golf and keep some form going,” Davis said. “I was just trying to enjoy the round, the scenery and the golf course because the more pressure you put on yourself in an event like this, the harder it is to perform and concentrate.”
Davis birdied four of the first six holes in the round that started on No. 10, bogeyed the par-4 second and had four straight birdies on Nos. 5-8. He birdied three of the four par 3s.
“Conditions were good,” Davis said. “There wasn’t too much breeze, not more than a club and a half of wind out there so off the tee that doesn’t hurt too much at all. The greens were still quite soft so the ball was stopping pretty quickly. It wasn’t too difficult out there, but I still had to hit some really good shots.”
Australia’s Brett Coletta and Japan’s Yuwa Kosaihira were two strokes back at 67 in the event conducted by the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, the Masters Tournament and The R&A.
“I used the wind to my advantage to give me some good positions on my tee-shots,” Kosaihira said. “I like these conditions.”
Thailand’s K.K. Limbhasut and Japan’s Junya Kameshiro shot 68, and New Zealand’s Nicholas Coxon had a 69.
Limbhasut is taking off the University of California’s season to prepare to apply to the business school. He played alongside Davis and Jin.
“Cam was impressive to watch,” Limbhasut said. “He struck the ball really well today and made a lot of good putts — 10-footers, 15-footers. It was awesome golf by him today.”
Limbhasut made a 20-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th, his ninth hole of the day.
“I got off to a pretty rough start,” Limbhasut said. “I hit a pretty bad drive on my first hole but somehow got par and then hit a good par putt on two. I’m not a long-hitter like Cameron Davis and I thought the first three holes were playing pretty hard. I tried to stay patient and the eagle on my ninth was pretty nice.”
Curtis Luck, the Australian who wrapped up a Masters invitation with his U.S. Amateur victory, opened with a 70. He was second last week in Mexico.
Jin had a 72. He’s a freshman at the University of Southern California,
China’s Guan Tianlang, the 2012 winner in Thailand at age 14, had three straight double bogeys in a 82. Now 17, he dropped nine strokes in a six-hole stretch in the middle of the round. He had three birdies and seven bogeys.
The winner also will get a spot in the British Amateur and a place in final stage of British Open qualifying.
Also Thursday, tournament organizers said the 2018 event will be played at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore. The 2017 event will be played at Royal Wellington in New Zealand.