The Open Championship

St Andrews debut for aspiring Chinese golfing teens

Cheng Peicheng and Yang Jieming, both 15, took part in the Junior Open and are in the galleries for the Carnoustie main event

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 July, 2018, 8:39am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 July, 2018, 8:38am

Fifteen-year-old Chen Peiching found himself practising next to China’s No 1 Li Haotong during the Volvo China Open earlier this year.

“He looked at me and said I’m a very good player,” said Chen, who is looking to emulate Li and one day play at the British Open.

He had his first foray into links golf this week when he took part in the Junior Open at St Andrews – which is the most revered of British Open venues. He finished in a tie for 59th but Chen, a product of the China Golf Association-HSBC Junior Programme, is hoping his experience in Britain will serve him well for the future.

“The CGA Programme has helped me a lot and gives me more opportunity to play, such as in this tournament,” said Beijing-born Chen, who was joined at St Andrews by fellow CGA Programme player Yang Jieming.

“My dream is to one day play at the Open and win the Claret Jug. I’m very happy to be here, I’ve made a lot of new friends and my golf has improved.”

Yang, a female who is also 15, finished one spot ahead of Chen in the standings in a three-round competition won by South African Martin Vorster.

The native of Shandong province said her favourite player was American Jordan Spieth but she also has a soft spot for China’s former world number one Feng Shanshan.

“My dream is to become a professional golfer and coming here has helped me, especially being in the CGA Programme,” said Yang.

“I like Feng Shanshan because she plays very well and she is the number one women’s golfer in China.”

Chen and Yang had similar introductions to golf, their fathers taking them to the driving range when they were younger.

“The first time I played I thought golf was a fun game,” said Chen. “Now I’m very happy to be a golfer.”

Having played in the Junior Open, the two Chinese players are now in Carnoustie in Scotland watching the top pros in action at the British Open.

Li was one over par after the second round of the Open, eager to improve on his impressive third place at the 2017 tournament at Royal Birkdale. Three-time major winner Spieth is the defending champion at Carnoustie.