Hak battles nerves to stay in race

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 December, 2011, 12:00am


Jason Hak Shun-yat's father's relieved expression said it all at the halfway house at Fanling, his nerves finally going slack after nine holes that wound them to tightrope tension.

Hak seemed set to cruise into the weekend when he birdied the first hole - his 10th - to go to one-over for the day and one-under in total.

But over the last six holes, the 17-year-old Hongkonger had to battle for everything before a birdie on the ninth finally sealed his place in the third round, and allowed Hak Snr to smile for the first time in about two hours.

A 72 for a 141 total ensured Hak takes his place in the third round alongside Australia's Kunal Bhasin this morning when he hopes to improve.

'You're not supposed to feel that way, but I think it definitely will be a little less pressure, and it does free me up a bit,' said Hak.

'It was a struggle coming back in, a real tough back nine. I was in good shape until about 12 holes, and I just kept missing greens. I couldn't get up and down. It was stupid mistakes, putting myself under pressure.'

Hak's round started to go bad on the par-three fourth, his 13th, when his iron off the tee fell short and his chip rolled through the green. That was one shot dropped and other went at the next when he found sand with his drive and second shot to go to one over in total.

More sand and a recovery attempt that rolled off the green on the seventh hole put him at a two-over total, right on the projected cut, and an early exit looked likely when he found another bunker on eighth. A great up-and-down saved par before he finally had an error-free hole on nine.

'I had bad shot after bad shot and you do get nervous. I try not to think that much, but it definitely affects you. I just tried my best to stay in, kept telling myself, 'Don't get nervous, you can do this, if other people can, you can, too'.'

One of his first thoughts coming off the course was for Shinichi Mizuno, the Japanese-born Hong Kong schoolboy. Unfortunately, he couldn't match his friend's efforts, finishing with a five-over 75 for a total of 148.