| Clear­wa­ter Bay Open Pre­view

HK Golfer - - Contents - By Louie Chan

Jason Hak, HK’s No.1 player, bids to be­come the tour­na­ment’s first lo­cal win­ner af­ter Aus­tralian Daniel Nis­bet pre­vailed last year.

Jason Hak will cer­tainly re­turn to Hong Kong a more con­fi­dent fig­ure af­ter winning his first pro ti­tle ear­lier this year. In Au­gust, the Hong Kong­born 23-year-old shot a clos­ing-round 65 to se­cure a 10-stroke vic­tory at the Yun­nan Cham­pi­onship in Kun­ming, end­ing a frus­trat­ing run since turn­ing pro­fes­sional in Au­gust 2013 fol­low­ing his fresh­man year at Ge­or­gia Tech.

“I had been in a good po­si­tion to win a few times, es­pe­cially last year, but I was my own worst en­emy when I was chas­ing. I’m play­ing well again and happy to be head­ing to Hong Kong again and play­ing at Clear­wa­ter Bay. Now, if I’m in a strong po­si­tion, I’ll know I’ve closed out be­fore, which should help,” said Hak, who is spon­sored by The Clear­wa­ter Bay Golf & Coun­try Club.

Last year, Aus­tralian Daniel Nis­bet emerged vic­to­ri­ous af­ter a play­off, de­scrib­ing Clear­wa­ter Bay as “the most breath­tak­ing course I’ve ever played”.

Hak will again carry Hong Kong’s best hope of a lo­cal vic­tory at the Clear­wa­ter Bay Open, which this year has an in­creased purse of RMB1.5 mil­lion, up 25% from RMB1.2 mil­lion last year. “There was a bit of at­ten­tion on me last year be­cause I’m from Hong Kong. I fell away a bit af­ter the sec­ond round, but I had a good week­end and fin­ished OK,” said Hak, who tied for 20th af­ter a seven-un­der-par clos­ing round of 63.

19-year-old Jin Cheng has ac­cepted a spon­sor in­vite to com­pete at the sec­ond Clear­wa­ter Bay Open and ad­mit­ted he’s ea­ger to re­turn to the scene of his great­est tri­umph. Jin shot a firstround 62 on his way to winning the Asia-Pa­cific Ama­teur ti­tle, which earned him a spot in last year’s Masters Tour­na­ment at Au­gusta Na­tional Golf Club, where the-then 18-year-old missed the cut in his ma­jor cham­pi­onship de­but but en­joyed global ex­po­sure.

Jin has plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence of pro­fes­sional tour­na­ments so far, play­ing reg­u­larly on the PGA TOUR China in 2014 and 2015. In April this year, he com­peted in the PGA TOUR’s RBC Her­itage on an in­vite. In early 2016, he made the cut at both the Com­mer­cial Bank Qatar Masters and May­bank Cham­pi­onship Malaysia – both Euro­pean Tour events – af­ter re­ceiv­ing in­vi­ta­tions on the back of his Asi­aPa­cific Ama­teur win in Hong Kong.

Last year, lo­cal stal­wart James Ste­wart com­peted on an in­vite from the Hong Kong Pro­fes­sional Golfers’ As­so­ci­a­tion (HKPGA), while the Hong Kong Golf As­so­ci­a­tion (HKGA) awarded an in­vite to ama­teur Leon D’Souza, then 18. Fel­low teenage am­a­teurs Isaac Lam and Yue Yin-ho ex­tended the Hong Kong pres­ence in the field when they pro­gressed through the Mon­day qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ment.

This year’s Clear­wa­ter Bay Open will again fea­ture a Mon­day qual­i­fier, which of­fers the chance for Hong Kong am­a­teurs and pros to join the field, while lo­cal play­ers could again com­pete on spon­sor in­vites in the 120-player line-up.

David Hui, a mem­ber of the event’s Or­gan­is­ing Com­mit­tee, said he hoped there would be a stronger lo­cal con­tin­gent com­pet­ing in the 72-hole tour­na­ment this year.

“We’re de­lighted that Jason will again be play­ing in the Clear­wa­ter Bay Open. At last year’s event, we an­nounced that The Clear­wa­ter Bay Golf & Coun­try Club was spon­sor­ing him. We’re de­lighted he has since se­cured his first pro ti­tle, but we’re al­ways so happy to sup­port Jason just be­cause of who he is and how he con­tin­ues to rep­re­sent Hong Kong,” said Hui, a former Pres­i­dent of the HKGA.

“We ex­pect fur­ther Hong Kong play­ers to com­pete through in­vites and we will ob­vi­ously be cheer­ing on all lo­cal play­ers in the Mon­day qual­i­fier and hope they can do as well as Isaac and Yin-ho last year. We had three teenage am­a­teurs from Hong Kong in last year’s field, which shows the strength of our young play­ers and our ju­nior pro­gramme.”

Since 2003, The Clear­wa­ter Bay Golf & Coun­try Club has been com­mit­ted to its Com­mu­nity Out­reach Pro­gram, an ini­tia­tive aimed at strength­en­ing neigh­bour­hood ties, pre­serv­ing the en­vi­ron­ment and up­hold­ing fam­ily val­ues while work­ing with char­ity part­ners to or­gan­ise and raise funds for dif­fer­ent sec­tors of peo­ple in the com­mu­nity.

Jin Cheng has ac­cepted a spon­sor in­vite for an emo­tional re­turn

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Hong Kong

© PressReader. All rights reserved.