Jason Hak grabs Lin Yuxin’s three-wood and heads for the Clearwater Bay Open as he prepares to take on ‘good friend’
The Hong Kong No 1 and the 17-year-old grouped with former Asia-Pacific Amateur champion Jin Cheng for opening two days
He’s six years his junior and out to upstage his more experienced rival, but that doesn’t mean Hong Kong No 1 Jason Hak Shun-yat isn’t willing to offer 17-year-old Lin Yuxin a hand when he needs one.
Lin enters this week’s Clearwater Bay Open on top of the world after winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship on Sunday, but still required his good friend Hak to pick up his spare three-wood from Beijing after he broke one on the path to victory.
“First of all, I’m really good friends with Yuxin, and I was really happy for him,” said Hong Kong-born Hak, who is based between Florida and Beijing. “He’s a great player and a great kid. He’s born in 2000 and he’s only 17, so I’m six years older than him – I’m feeling a little old.
“He’s a lefty and he crushes the ball. He’s not scared to attack any flag. Even on par fours, he likes to try to drive the green every time.”
Lin’s victory earned him a spot in the Masters and The Open Championship next year and Hak will get first look at the prodigious talent after the two – and 2015 Asia-Pacific Amateur champion Jin Cheng – were grouped together for the first two rounds of this week’s Open, starting Thursday.
On Tuesday, Hak and Lin practised together and paired up in the afternoon’s par-three tournament, which had a total purse of US$10,000.
In November last year, Lin was the top amateur in the inaugural Clearwater Bay Open, shooting a second-round 65 on his way to a tie for 59th.
Hak, 23, is looking to win his second pro title after a breakthrough victory in Yunnan province in August and is hoping to improve on his tie for 20th last year when he closed with a 63 over the scenic par-70 layout at The Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club.
For Jin, it will be his first trip back to Clearwater Bay since his Asia-Pacific Amateur victory on the course in a weather-shortened event two years ago.
Jin – now in his second year playing for the University of Southern California Trojans – finished fifth last week and was one of four Chinese players in the top five.
“I just felt really proud of the team. We’ve never had so many Chinese finish so high up the leaderboard. I was pretty far back after three rounds but played well on the final day,” said Jin, who remains the only amateur to secure a PGA Tour China title, winning the 2014 Nine Dragons Open outside Shanghai when only 16.
China golf prodigy Lin Yuxin returns for Clearwater Bay Open after securing Masters spot with breakthrough amateur win
“It’s great to be back at Clearwater Bay. Winning the AAC was definitely the biggest title of my career. I played really well that week, so it’s all good memories here and I’m excited to be back.”
Australia’s Daniel Nisbet will defend his Clearwater Bay Open title, while other PGA Tour China winners in the field include Taewoo Kim of South Korea, Gunn Charoenkul of Thailand and Canadians Justin Shin and Eugene Wong.