Memories of how Jason Hak took the golf world by storm 12 months ago will spur on competitors at this week’s UBS Hong Kong Open Qualifying Tournament.
The talented teenager seized his chance last year when he qualified for the main draw and went on to become the youngest player ever to make the cut at a European Tour event.
A total of 42 Hong Kong players will be aiming to emulate Hak when the qualifying tournament is held this Thursday and Friday (15-16 October) at the Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau Public Golf Course.
“It is a fantastic chance for Hong Kong players to rub shoulders with some of the best golfers in the world,” said Hong Kong Golf Association chief executive Iain Valentine.
“Jason showed how to do it last year when he came through the qualifying tournament and then raised his game to a whole new level at the UBS Hong Kong Open.
“I’m sure the memory of his astonishing achievement last year will be the perfect encouragement for the players at Kau Sai Chau this week.”
Hak – born in Hong Kong and now resident in Florida – sent shockwaves through the golf world when he carded two rounds of even-par 70 to make the cut at last year’s UBS Hong Kong Open.
At 14 years and 304 days, he eclipsed the European Tour record set by Sergio Garcia of Spain, who was 15 years and 46 days when he made the cut at the Turespana Open Mediterrania in Valencia in 1995.
Hak has no requirement to compete at Kau Sai Chau this time as he has received an exemption into the main draw from title sponsor UBS.
The field – comprising 25 professionals and 17 amateurs – will play two rounds as they chase four slots in the US$2.5 million showpiece.
The 2009 UBS Hong Kong Open will be staged at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling from 12-15 November.
The world class field will be spearheaded by Korean ace Yang Yong Eun, who became Asia’s first Major winner when he triumphed at the US PGA Championship in August.
Also in the line-up will be defending champion Lin Wen Tang of Chinese Taipei and the man he beat in last year’s unforgettable playoff duel, brilliant Northern Irish youngster Rory McIlroy.
The UBS Hong Kong Open – Hong Kong’s oldest professional sporting event, having started in 1959 – will once again be co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours.
The qualifying tournament is being held in conjunction with the Hong Kong leg of the UBS-supported Faldo Series Asia.
Six teenagers will be chasing the two places up for grabs in the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final at Mission Hills Golf Club, hosted by six-time Major winner Nick Faldo, next March.
Three of the players – Terrence Ng, 15, Charles Stone, 17, and 16-year-old Liu Lok Tin – are also eligible for the qualifying tournament.
Another of Hong Kong’s top youngsters, 16-year-old Steven Lam, is taking part in the Faldo Series Asia only as he has already qualified for the UBS Hong Kong Open as winner of the Hong Kong Close Amateur Championship last January.
An exemption will also be granted to the winner of the Hong Kong Open Amateur Championship at Discovery Bay Golf Club on 3-6 November.
The UBS Hong Kong Open International Qualifier will be held at the Palm Resort Golf and Country Club in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, on 20 October.