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Indians struggle in strong winds; China’s Cheng close to Masters berth

While Dwivedi and Aman were hoping to improve their positions in a round that may turn out to be the final as Typhoon-like conditions have been forecast for Sunday.

At the top,  China’s Jin Cheng, playing his fourth Asia-Pacific Amateur Championships, played a great chip from the right of the green for a tap-in birdie that only ensured sole lead for him but may also have sealed his Masters berth for 2016, since the forecast for Sunday is severe weather with Typhoon-like conditions and play may not be possible.

Cheng’s birdie on 18th took him to 11-under and one clear of the Australian duo 17-year-old Ryan Ruffels (67) and 20-year-old Cameron Davis (67).

The <g data-gr-id="67">organsiers</g> announced they will try to complete the final round but added that in case play cannot be completed on Sunday, the results of this year’s Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship may be declared after 54 holes, which is the end of <g data-gr-id="66">third</g> round.

So, that chip may well get Cheng, the World Amateur No. 33, to Augusta in April 2016. Last year the 17-year-old Cheng was second after 54 holes last year before slipping to T-12 finally.

Dwivedi, who has played a lot around Asia and even lived in Thailand and Singapore, said, “I have played in windy <g data-gr-id="68">conditions</g> but this was probably the toughest. It was almost impossible to keep control.”

Dwivedi got teammate Viraj Madappa to caddie for him on the final day. Despite that he had six bogeys against three birdies in a rather up-and-down round. Starting on the 10th, he started with two bogeys and had his first birdie 16th and another on 18th and in between a bogey on 17th. On the second stretch, he had a bogey on second, birdie on fifth and two more bogeys on seventh and eighth.

Aman added, “I managed the conditions, which were tough, will the last two holes, where I had a bogey and double bogey and that messed up my round.”

Aman had three birdies, four bogeys and one double and he closed with <g data-gr-id="58">bogey</g> and <g data-gr-id="59">double</g> bogey on eighth and ninth. Cheng Jin, who led for most of the day, seemed to be cruising away at 12-under, till he dropped a shot on 14th and Davis caught up at 11-under. Ruffles was a shot behind. Then with tension mounting, all three dropped a shot on the 17th. Cheng and Davis were tied at 10-under and Ruffles was nine-under.

On the 18th, with the strong wind coming back and rain threatening to come down, Cheng hit his second shot to the right of the green, while Ruffles had a 12-footer for eagle. Davis reached the green in three.

While everybody seemed to be playing to ensure they had a chance even if Sunday play did not happen, Cheng said, “I didn’t know the conditions were going to be so bad for Sunday though I heard some rumours. I just focused on my game. I missed a two-putt par from 15 <g data-gr-id="72">feet</g> but I was lucky that I had a good lie and I hit a good chip on 18th.”

Cheng made a great chip to within six inches and tapped in for birdie to go to <g data-gr-id="77">11-under,</g> while Davis missed a 12-footer for birdie and had to be satisfied with a par and stayed at 10-under. Ruffles’ eagle putt slid past and he got his birdie, but as he admitted, “It would be a pity if we did not get any play tomorrow and it would really hurt, after having come so close. It is everybody’s dream to be 
at Augusta.”

As the two Australians supported each other, Davis added, “Yeah, I’m just hoping to get a chance to play tomorrow.  It would be great to have a run at it, knowing that I’m one back now. Both Ryan and I played great in these conditions, and we have got to be proud of that.  We have such got a big reward to play for.”

Ruffles <g data-gr-id="70">was</g> candid as he said, “I think Cam and I helped each other out today.  Every time one of us made a putt, we gave each other a fist-pump.  I think because conditions were so hard, we had to do that.  We pulled each other through.”
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