Hong Kong: Six of Hong Kong’s brightest talents will tee-up alongside some of the best players in the world when they take their place in the 132-player field at this month’s Hong Kong Open.
Chi Hin Lou Tan, aged 19, claimed the final spot available to local players following a runaway 10-shot victory in the Hong Kong Open Amateur Championship at Discovery Bay Golf Club.
He will join Terrence Ng, Matthew Cheung, Isaac Lam, Shinichi Mizuno and Alan Gibson in the event from November 28-December 1 that is co-sanctioned by the European Tour and Asian Tour and will be hosted by the Hong Kong Golf Club, a Golf Course Facility Member of ther Asian Golf Industry Federation.
William Doo Jr, Captain of Hong Kong Golf Club, said: “Providing opportunities for Hong Kong golfers to learn from the game’s best is a large part of what this championship is all about. The experience of playing in an event of this calibre will undoubtedly aid their golfing development. On behalf of the Club, I wish them the very best. They can be assured of great support from the fans at Fanling.”
Tan, part of the Hong Kong Golf Association’s (HKGA) junior development programme since 2009, said: “Playing in the Hong Kong Open has been my motivation in the game since a young age. I now have that opportunity. It will be my first time, so I’ll be more focused on the process than the actual result. It will be a good opportunity to test myself against such strong competition and get a real indication of where my game currently stands.”
Ng secured his place in the Open following his third Hong Kong Men’s Close Amateur Championship title at Fanling in February. He returns to the Championship Course for what is expected to be his last outing as an amateur, with the 25-year-old planning to turn professional in the new year.
Cheung and Lam qualified following their respective first and second place finishes in this year’s national qualifying tournament, contested by 25 players at Hong Kong Golf Club in September. Carding a 63 in the first of two rounds on the par-70 New Course, Cheung claimed his third start in the Open with a seven-shot cushion over second-placed Lam.
The 24-year-old Cheung, who is in his rookie year on the PGA Tour Series-China, said: “It’s always a privilege to play among the European Tour and Asian Tour players. This is the biggest tournament I get to play with big crowds and big names, so it really teaches you to handle the stress and anxiety while still learning how to play golf and to perform. I made the cut last year. Hopefully this year I can do the same again and a little bit better.”
Lam has been a HKGA national team squad member since 2015 and will be making his debut in the annual showpiece.
The 20-year-old Reading University student said: “I’m excited to play in the Hong Kong Open for the first time. It’s a dream come true. I feel nervous and a little bit of pressure, but I won’t put too much expectation on myself because it is my first time playing in front of such big crowds. It’s going to be quite challenging but I’m going to play my own game and see what comes.”
The amateurs are joined by Hong Kong Professional Golf Association Order of Merit winner Mizuno who, at the age of 26, returns to the tournament for the first time as a professional. Nagoya-born Mizuno, also a product of the HKGA’s junior development programme, played the Open between 2012 and 2015, before turning professional in 2017.
In his rookie year on the Asian Tour, the Discovery Bay Golf Club member said: “It’s exciting to be returning to the Hong Kong Open as a pro. I would like to play well in front of the home crowd. At the same time, I need to boost my Asian Tour Order of Merit ranking so there’s a little bit of pressure on. I hope the combination of previous experience and playing on a familiar track will stand me in good stead.”
Hong Kong Golf Club and PGA Professional Gibson makes up the field of Hong Kong-based players. Gibson, who joined the Club in early 2015, is no stranger to the Open, having caddied for former champion Ian Poulter the year he joined. Originally from Scotland, he will be making his playing debut in the tournament.
Kenneth Lam, President of the HKGA, said: “Congratulations to all the Hong Kong qualifiers. They deservingly earned their places in the field and now have the opportunity to test their skills against the very best in the world, here on home soil.
“It is always an exciting time for the Hong Kong Golf Association as the entire golfing community in Hong Kong stands united in supporting our home-grown players, some of whom have been in our programme even before they were teenagers. It’s years of hard work from the players, their parents and coaches.”