Two major spots are on the line, but Australian Shae Wools-Cobb showed no nerves in his opening round Thursday at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.
The 21-year-old Cobb fired an 8-under 63 around Royal Wellington Golf Club in New Zealand and leads by four shots after the first 18 holes of the 72-hole championship, which awards its winner invites into the next year’s Masters Tournament and British Open.
“I had so much fun out there and it was pretty stress-free,” said Wools-Cobb, the sixth-ranked Aussie in the field. “I really enjoyed my day and hopefully I can do much the same in the last three rounds.”
Wools-Cobb tied the championship record with a 6-under-29 first nine that included four birdies and an eagle at the par-5 18th hole. The Aussie then added three birdies and a bogey on the front nine to equal the second lowest round the championship’s history.
Trailing Wools-Cobb are four players at 4 under – Australia’s Min Woo Lee, New Zealand’s Nick Voke, Philippines’ Lloyd Jefferson Go and Japan’s Sean Maruyama. Lee is the 2016 U.S. Junior Amateur champion and little brother of LPGA player Minjee Lee; Voke and Go are recent graduates of Iowa State and Seton Hall, respectively; and Maruyama is a UCLA commit and the son of three-time PGA Tour winner Shigeki Maruyama.
“Shae did have a good round, but I am going to stick to my game plan and not try to catch him,” Lee said. “You don’t win it on Thursday; you only lose it on Thursday. I still have three more rounds, so I will see how I go.”
Florida sophomore Andy Zhang of China and his fellow countryman Yuxin Lin share sixth place at 3 under along with New Zealand’s Kerry Mountcastle, Taiwan’s Wang Wei-hsuan and Indonesia’s Almay Rayhan Yagutah.
Round 2 will begin Friday at 8 a.m.