Friday March 22, 2013
New Chinese prodigy sets European Tour record
CHENGDU (China): A 12-year-old Chinese boy will become the youngest player ever to compete in a European Tour event after qualifying for the Volvo China Open.
Ye Wocheng finished third on Wednesday in one of the four 36-hole regional qualifiers for the China Open, which starts on May 2 and is jointly sanctioned by the European Tour.
He carded a 68 despite three-putting his last two holes on Tuesday at the Wolong Valley Country Club, and had a two-over 74 on Wednesday to finish three shots behind Jin Daxing and Li Xinyang with a two-round total of 142
Wocheng follows Masters-bound Guan Tianlang and Florida-based Andy Zhang, both 14, to become part of the group of young stars emerging from China.
Tianglang holds the current European Tour age record after he played last year’s China Open in Tianjin at 13 years and 177 days. Hong Kong’s Jason Hak became the Tour’s youngest cut-maker, aged 14 and 304 days, at the 2008 Hong Kong Open.
Despite international victories by the likes of veterans Liang Wenchong and Zhang Lianwei, China have only three players in the world’s top 650, confounding hopes the country’s golfers would quickly make a big impact on the sport.
However, China’s teen and pre-teen players are now leading the charge, with Zhang setting the trend when he became the youngest to tee off at the US Open last year.
In April, Tianglang will attract more headlines when he becomes the youngest to play the US Masters, lowering the 2010 record of Italy’s Matteo Manassero, who was 16 at the time, by a distance.
Wocheng said he’d been thinking for a year about breaking the European Tour set by Tianglang who later won the Asian amateur title in November at age 14 to become the youngest qualifier ever for the Masters.
Wocheng said he was nervous on Wednes-day morning, but he didn’t show it as he birdied the first two holes to move into the lead at seven under.
Wocheng’s coach David Williams said it was only a matter of time before his young student had an important breakthrough. — Agencies