Hideki Matsuyama stormed into the lead Saturday at the Asian Amateur, putting up a 6-under 65 amid a torrential downpour to take a three-shot lead.
Matsuyama, 18, made four birdies in his first five holes at Kasumigaseki Country Club’s West Course in Kawagoe City, Japan. He put up two more crucial birdies at Nos. 15 and 16 to put him far in front of the rest of the field heading into Sunday’s final round.
“It was difficult in the heavy rain, but fortunately I got off to a really good start,” Matsuyama said. “In those conditions, your body stiffens and your grip gets wet, so I was just trying to stay relaxed and keep my equipment dry.”
The winner of the Asian Amateur receives a spot in the 2011 Masters. Matsuyama, of Japan, said it’s not something he’ll think about during the final round, even with such a large lead.
“But it would be wonderful to win, even though I would feel a bit out of my league,” he added.
Tarquin Macmanus is Matsuyama’s closest pursuer at 8-under 205. Yosuke Asaji is at 5-under 208 and Kyung-Hoon Lee is another shot back at 4-under 209.
Second-round leader Zhiqun Lam fell into a tie for eighth after a third-round 78 brought him to even par. Lam couldn’t manage a singe birdie Saturday after making five during the second round.