Leading amateur Steven Lam has more than golf on his mind

20-year-old impresses, but he must sit US college exams on Monday

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 December, 2013, 9:57pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 December, 2013, 9:57pm

Forgive the furrowed brow should you catch sight of Steven Lam Tsz-fung.

The 20-year-old's even-par round was enough to send him back to the clubhouse as the leading amateur after the first day's play.

But what made the effort more impressive was Lam's revelation that he faces a mad dash back to the United States on Sunday night - and exams first thing Monday morning.

This is my fourth time at the Hong Kong Open and I've never made the cut, so I'm hoping I can this year - and then think a bit more about my exams
Steven Lam Tsz-fung

Talk about having a lot on your mind.

"I'm not getting much study done at the moment, but we'll see how things go," said Lam, whose show-reel highlight was a 12-foot putt for eagle on the par-five 13th.

"This is my fourth time at the Hong Kong Open and I've never made the cut, so I'm hoping I can this year - and then think a bit more about my exams."

A freshman at a community college in Santa Barbara, California, Lam came back to Asia two weeks ago to play in the Nomura Cup team event, hosted by the Santiburi Country Club in Thailand.

While he was not happy with his form at the event - as Hong Kong finished 11th behind champions Australia - he said it had helped him acclimatise before heading to Fanling.

"Coming back to play in Asia is always difficult because the conditions are so different to the States," said Lam. "And while things didn't go that well for me in Thailand by the time I got here I felt really good. I only made two mistakes today - and they cost me bogeys.

"But I'm still an amateur, so to only make two mistakes in a round is pretty good. Mentally, I am feeling pretty well and I was never over par today, so I hope I can keep the momentum going."

Lam's effort was matched by James Stewart's even-par round of 70, while teenager Jason Hak Shun-yat marked his first appearance at home as a professional with a four-over 74 that showed flashes of the promise that has seen him make the cut on his three previous Hong Kong Open appearances.

And it was a tough day at the office for 13-year-old debutant Max Ting, who shot a 15-over 85 to round out the field.