Campbell takes lead at Asian Amateur

New Zealand’s Ben Campbell shot 66 Friday to take a three-shot lead halfway through the Asian Amateur.

Campbell, No. 43 in the R&A World Amateur Ranking, is at 11-under 133 after tying the low round of the day at Singapore Island Country Club. The 20-year-old’s round featured four birdies and an eagle. He is bogey-free through 36 holes. He finished fourth at last year’s Asian Amateur.

“Overall I was pleased with my performance,” Campbell said. “I’ve got a little bit more work to do on the range, a few shots here and there that I can improve on but all in all I had a good run with my putting.”

This week’s winner will earn an invitation to the 2012 Masters. The top two finishers will earn exemptions into International Final Qualifying for the 2012 Open Championship.

Malaysia’s Kenneth Christian John De Silva was 3 under through 15 holes, and 8 under overall, when play was called for the day. De Silva has made just one bogey in 33 holes. A two-hour rain delay Friday morning meant the second round could not be completed as scheduled.

Australian Boys Amateur champion Cameron Smith (69) and 18-hole leader Soo-min Lee (72) of Korea are tied for third at 7 under. Defending champion Hideki Matsuyama (71) is in fifth place, five shots behind Campbell. Matsuyama, 19, had three birdies and two bogeys Friday.

“It was a struggle out there today and I really had to grind to get a result,” said Matsuyama, No. 4 in the R&A’s World Amateur Ranking. He finished 27th at this year’s Masters. “Everything about my game wasn't there.”

Zhiqun Lam, the Singapore Amateur champion, matched Campbell’s 66 Friday. The 22-year-old is tied for eighth at 4-under 140 on his home course.

Campbell, who briefly attended Texas A&M but did not compete in a tournament for the Aggies, is one of several players at the Asian Amateur with ties to American universities. Former Washington player Tze Huang Choo is tied for eighth after rounds of 68-72. George Gandranata, who played for Cal, is in 13th with rounds of 71-70. Northwestern senior Eric Chun, the runner-up in the 2009 Asian Amateur, is in 16th after shooting 73-69.

UCLA senior Alex Ship Yup Kim is tied for 26th at even par. He shot 73 in the first round, and was 1 under through 17 holes when play was suspended.

Tournament organizers announced Friday that Thailand will host the 2012 Asian Amateur. Amata Spring Country Club in Chonburi, southeast of Thailand’s capital city of Bangkok, will host the event on Nov. 1-4, 2012.

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