Rowe flying out for university challenge

A NEW, exciting chapter in the young life of national amateur champion Scott Rowe will open next week when he heads for America to begin his quest for golfing fame and fortune.

Since arriving in Hongkong six years ago, Rowe, now aged 18, has dominated the domestic golfing scene, winning almost every available accolade at club level with Royal Hongkong and distinguishing himself in the international arena.

''Hongkong is probably the best place in the world I could have spent these past six years,'' said Rowe, who begins the sophomore year of his golfing scholarship at Chicago's Northwestern University in September.

Based on his performances over the past 24 months, many believe that Rowe, born in Puerto Rico of Canadian parents, is the finest amateur player ever to have represented Hongkong and is destined for the very top.

Said Rowe: ''I'm planning to give everything to golf in the next couple of years to see if I have it in me to make it as a professional.'' Despite his grand ambitions, Rowe has no intentions of severing his links with Hongkong. With his parents, Kevin and Jean, staying on, Rowe says he is likely to return at least once or twice a year.

''I really feel like this is home and I'm planning to be back at Christmas,'' said Rowe who, depending on college commitments, may also return in November to lead the Hongkong challenge in the Southeast Asian men's amateur team championship for the Putra Cup at Fanling.

Rowe has no hesitation in describing his performance in this year's Kent Hongkong Open, when he played alongside Tom Watson and Severiano Ballesteros, as the highlight of his career to date.

''Those were some of the sweetest moments of my life and I will never forget that week,'' said Rowe, who also has fond recollections of his display in last year's Putra Cup in Brunei, where he finished second individually, and his first victory in the Hongkong Closed amateur championship.

''My main disappointment is that I did not win the Open amateur title,'' said Rowe, who was pipped for the title by Francis Gaston of the Philippines on the back nine of the final round at Discovery Bay last November.

Those experiences will remain with him, but Rowe is now focusing his attention on the immediate future.

Next week he competes in the Pacific Amateur Championship in Vancouver from where he will travel to Michigan to play in the Western Amateur where his opponents will include rising American stars Justin Leonard, Eldrick ''Tiger'' Woods and Ted Oh.

Rowe's game and confidence are in good shape following a three-week sortie on the professional Tour of Malaysia Series. He convincingly won the amateur section in all three events and finished ninth, 26th and 12th overall.

Said Rowe: ''I was encouraged by my performances in Malaysia and I'm looking forward to all the challenges ahead.''