Blake Windred of Australia leads the way in the 11th Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship after a sparkling 63 at Sheshan GC.

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Blake Windred leads the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at Sheshan GC after the Australian carded a record-setting opening round of 63.

21-year-old Windred, ranked 11th on the World Amateur Golf Ranking, closed with four straight birdies to add to the five he’d already posted during the round to finish with a nine-under-par 63.

Nobody has previously fired as low as nine-under in the first round of the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship and Windred now leads the tournament by two shots from South Korea’s Junhong Park.

“I ticked the box for every goal I set today,” he said. “I was enjoying it so much towards the finish that I didn’t want it to end, I hadn’t actually realised I’d closed with four birdies.”

Windred came into this week anticipating two potential outcomes:

Firstly, if he were to win, he would remain amateur to play in both The Masters and The Open, secondly; if he weren’t to win, he would turn professional.

“There’s not that much pressure, just a Masters and an Open spot to gain,” he joked.

But he’s not seeing the finishing post too soon.

“It’s a great start but there’s three rounds to go so I won’t be getting ahead of myself,” he said.

South Korea’s Junhong Park carded an excellent opening round of 65 that, like Windred, was bogey-free.

Playing in the first group off the first tee, South Korea’s Jun Min Lee closed with a birdie to card a four-under 68 and a tie for third place. With two halves of 68, his score could have been even better had he not suffered bogey sixes on two of the par-5s, the 8th and 14th.

Ren Yonezawa of Japan carded five birdies and just one bogey in his round of 68. The 20-year-old is making his first start in the AAC but he has enjoyed a stellar 2019 season, during which he has been South Australia Amateur Champion and a runner-up in the Asia-Pacific Open on the Japan Golf Tour.

Shuai-ming Wong of Hong Kong posted halves of 35 and 33 to finish the day on four-under. The 19-year-old is a sophomore at Southern Methodist University and is a former Junior Players champion, an event he won at Sawgrass in 2017.

The AAC champion of 2017, Lin Yuxin of China got off to a fine start with a four-under 68. The left-hander is looking to join Hideki Matsuyama as the only multiple champions of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.

Two further players carded 68, Ervin Chang of Malaysia and Yung-hua Liu of Chinese Taipei.

The layout at Sheshan GC has been receiving significant praise from competitors and officials.

It’s been beautifully presented this week and is delivering a firm but fair test of tournament golf. The venue will be well-known to golf fans having hosted the WGC-HSBC Champions on 13 occasions.

The players have take advantage: Although this is a testing track, no fewer than 23 players carded under par today.

There’s still all to play for heading towards day 2 of the AAC and the pressure will build as players at the top of the leaderboard contemplate the incredible prizes on offer this week.

Organised by the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) in conjunction with The R&A and The Masters Tournament, the winner of this tournament receives: An invitation to compete in the 2020 Masters Tournament plus direct entry into The 149th Open Championship at Royal St George’s in 2020. He will also receive an exemption into The Amateur Championship to be played at Royal Birkdale.

Earlier in the day it was announced that the 2020 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship will return to Royal Melbourne in Australia.

The 2014 AAC was hosted at the classic sand-belt layout and was won by home player Antonio Murdaca.

The 2020 championship will be contested between 29th October and 1st November.

The runner(s)-up receive a place in The Open Qualifying Series with the opportunity to qualify for Royal St George’s.

Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship – Round 1 Scores

1 Blake Windred (Aus) 63
2 Junhong Park (Kor) 65
T3 Jun Min Lee (Kor) 68
T3 Ren Yonezawa (Jap) 68
T3 Shuai Ming Wong (HK) 68
T3 Yuxin Lin (Chn) 68
T3 Ervin Chang (Mal) 68
T3 Yung-Hua Liu (Tpe) 68

Leading 60 players and ties after round two make the cut.