Pre-tournament favorites Keita Nakajima and Yuxin Lin got off to similarly good starts Wednesday at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.
Playing together for the first time, Nakajima, the No. 1-ranked amateur, and Lin, the defending champion and two-time winner of the AAC, each posted 4-under 67s to join a congested leaderboard at Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club in the United Arab Emirates.
Seven players shot 67 to share the early lead, with more than a dozen players also within two shots. The winner of the AAC gets an invitation into the following year’s Masters and Open Championship, provided he remains amateur.
No one had more pressure coming in than Nakajima, who was looking to cap a stellar year for Japanese golf. Hideki Matsuyama became the first AAC participant to win a major at the Masters, and there are plenty of talented up-and-comers, like Nakajima, looking to follow in his path.
Lin is vying to win a record third AAC title. He missed the cut in his previous two Masters appearances, in 2018 and 2020.
Though they’ve competed against each other for years, this was the first time Lin, a junior at Florida, has been paired with Nakajima.
“Obviously, everyone is trying to win the tournament,” Lin said. “For me, I’m not really trying to compete with anyone else. Just trying to play the best golf that I can, and the results should be good.”
Also among the early leaders is Australian Lukas Michel, the 2019 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion. Alexander Yang, Jimmy Zheng, Wooyoung Cho and Sam Choi also were in the clubhouse with 67s.