October 9, 2007 – Hong Kong amateur sensation Jimmy Ko beat a field containing the territory’s top professionals today (Tuesday, October 9) to secure a place in next month’s star-studded UBS Hong Kong Open.
The 19-year-old won the two-round qualifying tournament by two shots to book one of the five slots available in the main draw.
“After these two rounds I feel good about my game and I’m ready to play well in the Open,” said Ko.
The teenager carded rounds of 66 and 71 on the Old Course at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling for a five-under-par 137 total.
That put him clear of experienced pair Derek Fung (69-70) and Dominique Boulet (68-71) on three-under 139 and Tang Shing Chi (69-73) on level par.
The fifth qualifying slot went to Tang Man Kee (73-74), who won a four-man playoff on the second extra hole.
Ko also qualified for last year’s Open, where he failed to make the cut, but he feels more confident about his chances this time.
“I’ve spent the past six months in the US, taking part in a training programme and playing some tournaments, and it’s been a very good experience for me,” he said.
“The mental part of my game is much better and I’ve also improved my distance. I think I will make the cut this time and my target will be to finish in the top 30.”
Ko will be teeing it up with some of the greats of the game when the US$2 million UBS Hong Kong Open is held on the Championship Course at Fanling on November 15-18.
The field includes 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir, two-time US Open winner Retief Goosen, PGA Tour stars KJ Choi and Trevor Immelman and Chinese No.1 and current Asian Tour UBS Order of Merit leader Liang Wenchong.
The qualifying event was run in conjunction with the Hong Kong leg of the Faldo Series Asia – also sponsored by UBS – meaning some of the young amateurs taking part had their scores counting towards both tournaments.
That meant Ko won one of the four places for boys aged 12-21 in the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, to be hosted by six-time Major winner Nick Faldo at Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzhen on December 12-14.
Also qualifying were Martin Liu, Vilhelm von Sydow and Terrence Ng.
Stephanie Ho and Tiffany Chan had already booked the two places in the Grand Final available for girls aged 12-21 with their performances at the Hong Kong Ladies Open Amateur Championship last week.