Teenage golfer passes stiff test
IT was a dream come true for Hongkong's teenage golfing sensation Scott Rowe at the Hongkong Open in Fanling last week when he lined up alongside two of the world's all-time greats - Tom Watson and Severiano Ballesteros.
The 17-year-old was handed a dream draw, which pitted him against American Watson and Taiwanese professional Chen Tse-chung for the first two rounds.
Rowe, taken to hospital on the eve of the event suffering from a bout of gastroenteritis, stunned the gallery when he opened with a three-under-par 68 at the Royal Hongkong Golf Club.
That was four shots better than defending champion Watson and put him in equal 12th place in the 156-man field after the first day.
Rowe's composure, swing and course management won high praise from Watson.
The Hongkong International School pupil, however, was slightly off on the second day when he returned a 76 card, but his 36-hole total of 144 was a commendable effort which left him as the leading amateur in the field.
And much to his delight, Rowe's playing partner for the third round was his idol, Ballesteros of Spain.
''Seve was the first man I saw play golf on television; he is my No 1 hero. I had pictures of him all over the walls at home,'' said the eager youngster.
But Rowe was not a bit overawed by the occasion and shot birdies at the third and eighth to make the turn in two-under 33.
Unfortunately, he dropped three shots on the back nine for a 72, still a very respectable score which earned him praise from Ballesteros.
''I'm sure he has a big future . . . I didn't know that he was only 17; I thought he was 22,'' said the Spaniard.
Rowe closed with a 75 for a four-round aggregate of 291, which put him in joint 57th overall.
But he walked off with three amateur awards - the Golf Association of Hongkong Trophy as top amateur, the David Trench Cup as top Hongkong amateur and the President's Medal.
Rowe is in his last term at secondary school and is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Watson and win a golf scholarship and study psychology at Stanford University in the US.
He said his Hongkong Open experience had strengthened his resolve to try and make the grade as a professional when he completed his education.
''I will take a lot of good memories away from the tournament. It has really whetted my appetite.''