Cheung Matthew Hung Hai and Lam Steven Tsz Fung topped the leaderboard after round two of qualifying today to secure starting places in next month’s highly anticipated HONMA Hong Kong Open.
The pair overcame wet and windy conditions in the first round and stiff competition among the 32-player field to earn their places among a stellar line-up in the showpiece tournament that includes Masters champion Patrick Reed and Ryder Cup stars Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood.
Amateur Cheung shot two consecutive 1-under par rounds of 69 on the New Course at Hong Kong Golf Club to secure top spot and a second consecutive appearance at the prestigious tournament.
Lam’s rounds of 70 and 71 left him 1-over par on aggregate with a two-shot lead over third placed Wong Max Chen Kun. He returns for a fifth time, having last competed in 2013.
Said Cheung: “It feels great to be through again, two from two in the last couple of years. It’s always a goal at the start of the year to get into the tournament. Today, I got off to a good start – eagled 3, made a blunder on 5, but kept it pretty steady. I had a couple of birdies coming in and a few par saves. I knew I had a bit of a buffer so played safe coming into the 18th.”
The 23-year old from Taikoo, who was introduced to the game at the age of three, graduated last year and is now eyeing a place on the Asian Tour and PGA Tour China.
Looking ahead to the 60th edition of the Hong Kong Open, Cheung added, “My goal is to play well and make the cut, just play as well as I can and enjoy the experience, as not many people get to play in tournaments like that.”
Lam added: “These two days I didn’t hit the ball that well, but I managed to keep it in play. I’ve been chipping and putting really well, but on the second shot on the last hole the ball went out of bounds, so I knew I was close to the line, but when I came back in and I found out I just made it through, I was really excited and happy.”
The 25-year old from Kowloon believes that his recent decision to focus more on his career away from golf helped him relax over the last two days, adding, “Now I’ve made it to the Hong Kong Open again, I’m going to have to get out there and practice a lot more!”
The Qualifying Tournament was played on the New Course at Hong Kong Golf Club which has recently undergone a major clear up following the damage brought by Super Typhoon Mangkhut last month.
Commenting on the course, Lam added, “They’ve really done an amazing job to get the course into the kind of shape we’ve had over the past two days with the number of trees that were lost here at Fanling. The course played very true so all credit to Hong Kong Golf Club for getting it back into such a good condition.”