Chinese teenager Jin Cheng turns focus to Macau Open after booking ticket to the Masters
Country's No.1 amateur on the crest of a wave after winning Asia Pacific Championship and earning place in Augusta
Seventeen-year-old sensation Jin Cheng admits his feet have hardly touched the ground since he won his way into the field for next year's Masters thanks to his victory at last week's Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.
But China's top-ranked amateur said a week at home in Beijing with his family had helped him keep things real, as had the advice he had been receiving from a close friend as he turns his attention to this week's US$1 million Venetian Macau Open.
"Zhang Lianwei won there two times so I have been talking to him," Jin said, of the Chinese veteran, who won the tournament in 2001 and 2002.
"He's my role model, I've played his junior tournaments and he has given me advice.
"He's given me advice about course management and how to approach tournaments and it has really helped me develop."
Rain may have shortened last week's APAC at Clearwater Bay, but by the time he had reached the final round, Jin's record opening 62 had sounded a warning to the field, and then luck was to go his way as the pack closed in. Jin's 11-under-par 199 after three days was enough for a one-stroke win over Australians Ryan Ruffels and Cameron Davis, as the fourth day was cancelled, and now Augusta awaits next April, as well as the British Open qualifying series at Royal Troon in July.
"There were so many good players in that field. I am just glad I was the lucky one," said Jin. "That win has changed my life for sure. Augusta is the dream of every golfer."
First thing's first, though, and now Jin heads to the Macau Golf and Country Club from Thursday and a field that boasts some of Asia's finest - including Thai star Thongchai Jaidee and last year's Macau winner and current Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Anirban Lahiri of India.
There will also be the commanding figure of South African great Ernie Els to contend with, along with 2013 Macau Open winner Scott Hend of Australia, as the young Chinese star gets his first taste of Macau.
"This year I have been trying to play tournaments week after week, so Macau will be good for me to get straight back out on the course," said Jin. "I've been playing well for the whole year. My whole game is in pretty good form. I've never been to Macau so I just want to do my best."