Clearwater Bay Open

Jin Cheng to make ‘emotional’ Clearwater Bay return to scene of his memorable Amateur Championship triumph

Top amateur accepts sponsor’s invite to compete in the PGA Tour China’s second Clearwater Bay Open

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 October, 2017, 12:45pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 October, 2017, 12:45pm

Chinese teen Jin Cheng will compete in the PGA Tour China’s upcoming Clearwater Bay Open from November 2-5 at The Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club, scene of the Chinese teen’s memorable victory at the 2015 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.

Jin shot a first-round 62 on his way to winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur title, which earned him a spot in last year’s Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club, where the-then 18-year-old missed the cut in his major championship debut but enjoyed global exposure.

Jin has plenty of experience of professional tournaments, playing regularly on the PGA Tour China in 2014 and 2015. In early 2016, he made the cut at both the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters and Maybank Championship Malaysia – both European Tour events – after receiving invitations on the back of his Asia-Pacific Amateur win in Hong Kong.

Now in his second year playing for Trojans at the University of Southern California, the 19-year-old has accepted a sponsor invite to compete at the second Clearwater Bay Open and admitted he’s eager to return to the scene of his greatest triumph.

“The win at Clearwater Bay was really special as it basically opened a lot of doors for me and obviously booked me a place at the Masters, which is every golfer’s dream. It was tough to win the AAC because I started well, but then I had to hold on to my lead in some difficult weather,” said Jin, who hails from Beijing and has also lived in Singapore.

“It’s going to be pretty special, pretty emotional, to go back to Hong Kong and play there again. A lot of memories will come back and hopefully I’ll see a few people I remember.”

Jin was only 16 in November 2014 when he became the first amateur to win a PGA Tour China title by claiming the Nine Dragons Open in Zhejiang province.

The youngster recorded five other top-10 finishes in 18 events on the circuit in 2014 and 2015 before moving to the US last year, winning The Players Amateur in South Carolina in July.

“I played a lot on the PGA Tour China when I lived in China, so I’m comfortable playing against pros. I know a lot of the top Chinese players like Dou Zecheng and Zhang Xinjun, and it’s been great to see them play their way on to the Tour and now PGA Tour,” Jin said.

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“This will be my first PGA Tour China event for a couple of years and hopefully I’ll do OK. I know the players are still strong because even when some players move on to bigger Tours, others come back from Tour and even PGA Tour. It should be fun.”

Lin Yuxin will be another amateur to watch after the left-handed 17-year-old shared seventh place at last week’s Hainan Open in Sanya, where he was China’s top finisher in the European Challenge Tour event.

Lin was only 16 in April when he made the cut at the European Tour’s Shenzhen International, while last November he was the top amateur at the inaugural Clearwater Bay Open, the PGA Tour China’s first event outside mainland China.

Hong Kong’s number one Jason Hak Shun-yat will be among the local hopes at the Clearwater Bay Open after winning his first pro title in August, recording a 10-stroke victory at the Yunnan Championship in Kunming.

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The purse for the 72-hole Clearwater Bay Open has increased to HK$1.76 million this year from HK$1.41 million last year.