Photo Takumi Kanaya – Golf Australia
Two of Asia best amateur golfers in recent years have a share of the opening round lead at the Emirates Australian Open, Japan’s Takumi Kanaya and Taiwan’s Chun-An You opening with rounds of 66 at the Australian Golf Club in Sydney to lead by two over Australians Matt Jones, Dimi Papdatos and Daniel Nisbet.
Both players have been beneficiaries of the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship in recent years, Kanaya a winner in 2017 and runner-up in 2019 and Yu a regular top ten finisher in recent years, highlighting the benefit being provided to golf in the Asia Pacific region by the increasingly significant world class amateur event.
Kanaya won one of the flagship events on the Japan Golf Tour two weeks ago when successful at the Mitsui Sumitomo Visa Taiheiyo Masters and twelve months ago finished 17th at the Australian Open while Yu is currently the 6th ranked male amateur in the world.
Kanaya began his round at the 10th hole and book-ended his day with four consecutive birdies to begin and two consecutive birdies to finish. His only bogey would come at his 12th hole bit it was another impressive performance in an Australian event for the 21-year old.
“I play Australian Golf Club third time this year,” said Kanaya. “So, I was 17 years old, I played 2015, so I shot 85 second round, so I learned (the) Australian golf style. I just (knew) Japanese golf style before 17 years old. I have confidence, but I have three more days, so I will do my best tomorrow.
After beginning his day with an early bogey at his second hole, Yu birdied seven of his last twelve holes to join Kanaya in the lead several hours after Kanaya finished his morning round. Yu gets the chance to steal a march on Kanaya with an early tee time on day two while Kanaya plays in the afternoon field.
“Yeah, it feels great,” said Yu who attends Arizona State University. “I’ve played here four, five years ago and so I know the course a little bit. I played great out there, so hopefully tomorrow I can do it again, yeah. The better scores actually came in this morning and this afternoon was much more difficult. So, you’ve got an early start tomorrow, ready to go.
PGA Tour player, Jones, continued his love affair with the Australian Golf Club where he has spent so much time in earlier years and when visiting his coach while home, Gary Barter. Jones defeated Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott to win this event in 2015 and has again begun well, his round highlighted by an eagle at his 9th hole (the 18th of the course).
Papadatos finished runner-up behind Abraham Ancer at the Australian Open last year and although he has not recorded a top ten anywhere in the world since he has again shown a liking for playing at home.
Nisbet, who, like Papadatos, is a former New Zealand Open champion, but aside from a win at the Queensland PGA Championship earlier this year his season in 2019 has been well below his best. Today’s round was a real encouragement for the Gold Coast based golfer.
Pre-tournament favourite Paul Casey is three shots off the lead after his round of 68, an eagle at the 14th after an iron to 2 inches from 210 yards boosting his round after a slow start to the day.
Australia’s number one and the number two world ranked player in the field, Adam Scott was a surprise, his round of 71 leaving him a massive ten shots from the lead.