Date: January 18, 2017
Author: Mark Hayes

#AusAm: Kevin’s our number Yuan

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Serial contender Kevin Yuan has put himself in a strong position again today after a fighting 69 at Yarra Yarra earned him medallist honours at the Australian Amateur Championship, presented by Swinging Skirts.

The Sydneysider, a semi-finalist in 2015 and who led after the first round of stroke play last year, opened with a stunning chip-in eagle on the first at Yarra Yarra today and then hung on for a fighting 69 on a day of high winds, similar scoring and a crazy playoff to determine the final 64 to reach tomorrow’s match play phase.

His -4 total after two rounds was enough to keep Perth’s Min Woo Lee at bay by a stroke, with one of the overnight leaders, Kiwi Ryan Chisnall, joining Central Coast bolter Kieren Jones in a share of third one stroke further back.

Lee held or shared for much of his second round after reaching four under through 12 holes to sit -6, but three late bogeys cost him a shot at being medallist and left him at -3.

Jones backed up his 69 at Yarra Yarra yesterday with another -1 total (71) at nearby Kingswood today to finish -2 alongside Chisnall who battled the worst of the winds and fought hard for a plucky 73.

But most of the drama fell late in the evening when 20 men set out for 18 spots in a playoff among those who finished at seven over.

As five groups of four played the 17th hole, it wasn’t until the fourth group that a score worse than a bogey was recorded on the par-four.

But in quick succession, Japan’s Gaku Tsukamoto and Chris Crabtree took double, as his fellow Queenslander Lawry Flynn picked up when his putt for six slid by.

That left Tsukamoto and Crabtree duelling it out and the Queenslander missed his big chance on the 18th when a 3m birdie putt singed the left edge.

Back down the 17th, Tsukamoto made a brilliant birdie after his drive went way right on to the 18th fairway and it proved enough despite Crabtree’s stellar up and down for par kept his hopes alive momentarily.

Earlire, Italian Federico Zucchetti eagled the par-five ninth en route to the best score of the first two days at Yarra Yarra – his 68 lifting him safely up to one over.

World No.6 Scott Gregory, of England, advanced at +2, despite a 75 today.

Australia’s top-ranked players both advanced despite not having their A-games, with Sydney’s Travis Smyth one of those to make par in the playoff, while his good mate and fellow New South Welshman Harrison Endycott finished at six over.

An impressive late rally by Charlie Dann enabled the Queenslander to eventually cruise through at three over after his 69.

The match play phase begins tomorrow morning.

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