This could just be the beginning, says Hong Kong’s Jason Hak after scorching 10-stroke victory in Kunming
Former teenage prodigy breaks through for landmark professional title to end years of frustration but he always knew he had it in him to become champion
Jason Hak Shun-yat often wondered when it was going to be his time to finally make it to the big time on the professional stage after bursting on to the scene as a teenage prodigy.
Ever since Hak became the youngest golfer to make the cut on a European Tour event at the Hong Kong Open at just 14 – beating Sergio Garcia’s record by 107 days – the 23-year-old Hong Kong ace knew he had it in him to go on to greater things. He just did not know exactly when.
The Florida-based golfer had to endure years of frustration before he finally broke through.
But by the time he romped to a 10-stroke victory at the 1.35 million yuan (HK$1.58 million) CGD Yunnan Championship in Kunming on the China Tour, he will never have to doubt himself again.
Hak’s dominant victory was one of the most impressive title victories ever on the China Tour and it drew comparisons with a young Tiger Woods. Hak matched South Korean teenager Wang Jeung-hun’s dominant victory when the then 18-year-old won the China Tour’s maiden event, the Mission Hills Haikou Open in 2014 by a tournament record 10 shots.
In four glorious days at the Citic Jialize Sports Club in Kunming, Hak was the consummate professional, consumed by the burning passion of one day lifting a major.
The next Tiger Woods? Probably not, but what Hak did during those brilliant four rounds was a performance that really stood up and took notice. And Hak believes it was just the impetus he needed to go on to achieve greater things.
“That was the best I have played. I definitely think so,” Hak told the Post. “In a four-day professional event that is the best I have played golf.
“The way I hit the golf ball and the way I holed putts, the way I played in that I continued [to play] all four great rounds, lined up great shots, hit a lot of great shots and I made a lot of putts, definitely.”
Hak always knew deep down that it was only a matter of time before he would lift his first professional title even though it took a little longer after showing so much promise when he turned pro in 2013.
“I always feel like the way I played, it has always been there, it has always been in me. This time I had a lot confidence [going into the tournament] and I was more calm, so it let me perform the way I would like to perform. I was really happy I did it,” said Hak, who finished with a seven-under par 65 to win the tournament on 22-under.
Hak was so much in the zone he didn’t even realise that Mathew Perry, of New Zealand, was 10 strokes behind him. Nor did he care.
His laserlike focus helped him finish the day with an astonishing nine birdies with a double bogey on the fourth hole his only blemish in an otherwise perfect round.
“As the tournament played on, it already was giving me more and more confidence. Winning definitely gave me more of confidence boost to the future events. It’s just great seeing myself winning and knowing I could do it and doing it this way,” he said.
With the proverbial monkey off his back, Hak has the belief that he could go on winning, and he hasn’t stopped dreaming of winning his first major. And he knows there’s always room for improvement.
“To every professional golfer, winning a major, or more than one major or winning the grand slam of golf is the lifetime goal and of course, that’s something I would like to do, too,” said Hak.
“I think in every part of my game, there’s always improvement that I can get, I can chase. There’s not one part of the game where I think I am the best in the world or that I am really good. I will work each part of the game continually and get improvement.”
Hak has the China Tour Series order of merit firmly in his sights after his victory in Kunming lifted him to third place overall.
“Of course, everybody wants to win the order of merit by the end of the year. A lot of golfers have this goal in mind and it’s definitely my goal too and I will definitely try to chase that one down,” said Hak.
Right now, Hak will be hoping to inspire his Hong Kong teammates as they search for a medal in the National Games in Tianjin next month.
“My main target will be on the rest of the China Tour events. Before the Beijing Classic [in September], I will be representing Hong Kong at the National Games,” he said.
It’s a team event, of course we show up to get medals, to win. All my teammates are getting ready for the tournament. We will just try to enjoy ourselves and play our best.
“It’s one tournament by one tournament or to be more specific, it’s going to be shot by shot. I will always try to hit my next shot the best I can.”