Hak revels in sharing spotlight with stars
Jason Hak Shun-yat didn't have to look far for a role model yesterday: as he entered the media centre, his hero Rory McIlroy, was leaving.
The pair exchanged congratulatory handshakes and 'well dones' before Hak (pictured) went to face the press.
While this might be the only event of the year where the 17-year-old Hongkonger has to deal with anything like the attention the US Open champion receives daily, Hak's aim is to one day emulate the Northern Irishman on and off the course.
'I love Rory. He's a great player, I always look up to him,' Hak said following an impressive one-under 69 after a morning when the course was firm and fast, the wind was gusting and swirling and low scores were the exception - unless your surname was McIlroy.
'He's still very young, but to me I can still learn a lot [from him], because no matter if it's inside or outside the ropes, he knows how to control himself and perform at the highest level,' Hak said. 'That's something I'd love to learn from him.'
Hak came to the world's attention at Fanling in 2008, when he became the youngest player ever to make the cut on the European Tour at the age of 14 years, 304 days, beating Sergio Garcia's record by 107 days.
While he caught everyone by surprise that year, now he has the local media's attention, a spotlight he seems eminently comfortable under.
Hak went into the back nine two over after bogeys on six and eight but remained focused, birdieing the par-3 11th and par-5 12th, then dipping under par with the shot of his round, a hole-out from the greenside bunker on the par-4 16th.
Florida resident Hak won two prestigious tournaments in the US this year - the TaylorMade-adidas Golf Junior at Innisbrook in April and the Rolex Tournament of Champions in July - to rise to number one in the American Junior Golf Association rankings.
For now though, it's all about a different kind of learning.
'Having an opportunity to enjoy [the build-up] with all of the top players at the press conference, it's a wonderful experience,' Hak said.
'Right now I'm still an amateur, but hopefully one day I'll become one of them. They all have their speciality, and maybe if I can pick their brains and get a speciality from each one of them, maybe I'll become one of the top players in the world in the near future.'