Chinese amateur teen Jin Cheng finds the going tough on Masters debut

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 April, 2016, 12:02pm
UPDATED : Friday, 08 April, 2016, 12:03pm

Chinese amateur Jin Cheng found his love affair with Augusta National sorely tested in Thursday’s first round as he struggled to a seven-over 79.

It was, he said, a very different prospect teeing off for real as opposed to the relaxed atmosphere of the practice rounds where he notably played with golf legend Tom Watson.

“It’s pretty different. Especially on that first tee. I was pretty excited,” the 18-year-old from Beijing said.

With the breezy conditions playing havoc with many of the 89-strong field, Jin got off to a poor start with a double-bogey six at the first.

Not super disappointed, a little disappointed. But I tried my best and I enjoyed the whole 18 holes
Jin Cheng

But he rebounded well with a fine birdie at the second and reached the turn in 39.

Jin produced a fine birdie at the tough par-four 10th hole, but instead of being able to build on that he double-bogeyed the next hole and then dropped another at the famous par-three 12th.

Three straight bogeys from the 15th gave him 40 for the back nine and a total of 79 that he felt could have been better.

“I birdied a few tough holes like 14, 10 and five. But I had a few loose shots as well,” said Jin, who will start playing college golf in California this summer.

“Not super disappointed, a little disappointed. But I tried my best and I enjoyed the whole 18 holes. It was an awesome experience. I enjoyed playing with Zach [Johnson] and Rickie [Fowler].

Jin said he had no realistic targets coming into his first major tournament, having gained entry by winning last year’s Asia-Pacific amateur championship.

But he is friendly with Guan Tianlang, who impressed three years ago at Augusta National when he made the cut at 14 years and five months as the youngest player ever to compete in the Masters.

“I will try to hit more fairways and more greens for sure. But it’s a little challenging with this wind,” he said.

“My driver wasn’t that good, not only because I was nervous, but after a few holes I began to notice that all my drives were going a little right today.”

Jin could be excused also if he had been distracted by the erratic form of American playing partner Rickie Fowler.

Coming into the tournament as one of the favorites, Fowler had a nightmare back nine of 44, which saw him crawl in with an 80, one shot worse off than Jin.