Youngest Player in European Tour History Adds Prestigious Junior Golf Title to his Name as Club Continues its Ongoing Commitment to Junior Golf Development in Asia
The Mission Hills Jack Nicklaus Junior Championship was won in convincing style by Ye Wo Cheng last Friday, as the 13-year-old reaffirmed his status as one of Asia’s most talented young golfers. The Dongguan player, who became the youngest player to compete in a European Tour event earlier this year, carded a combined two-round total of 2-under-par 142, holding off strong competition in both the Boys Under-15 and Boys Under-18 competitions, to claim the title of one of the region’s most prestigious junior golf trophies. The Girls competition was won by Kai Lin Zhu.
It promises to be a busy year for both players as the result will see both Cheng and Zhu, along with the top three players in each category, receive invitations from the Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus, to play in the Nicklaus Junior Championship at Bear Lakes Country Club in West Palm Beach, Fla., and to the 2013 Mission Hills Golf Series Junior Tour Grand Final. The pair will also be invited to play in the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final 2013 at Mission Hills Golf Club. Additionally, Cheng will be invited to play in a OneAsia Tournament in 2013, while Zhu will be invited to play in the 2014 World Ladies Championship at Mission Hills.
The Jack Nicklaus Junior Championship, now in its 6th year, marks another important milestone in Mission Hills’ ongoing contribution to the development of elite junior golf in Asia. This commitment to junior golf has witnessed a number of the country’s rising young stars compete in tournaments hosted by the Club, including the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship, Jack Nicklaus Junior Championship, Faldo Series Asia, ANNIKA Invitational and Mission Hills Golf Series Junior Tour.
The Jack Nicklaus Junior Championship has already proven to be a launching point for a number of promising careers, the most notable being 14-year-old Guan Tianlang, who made Masters Tournament history in April, when he become the youngest ever to start in a Masters and the youngest in PGA Tour history to make the cut in a major championship.. Guan and his family spent more than an hour with Nicklaus, the six-time Masters winner, on the eve of the tournament. In the weeks following, Guan received a special exemption into the Memorial Tournament, the prestigious PGA Tour event founded and hosted by Nicklaus. The Golden Bear said he would like the Captains Club (the group of golf dignitaries that helps determine tournament invitations and exemptions) to extend a permanent invite to the winner of the Asia Pacific Amateur. While Guan Tianlang secured his exemption to the Memorial and the Mastersby winning the Asia Pacific Amateur last fall, he signaled his arrival on the amateur scene by winning the Mission Hills Jack Nicklaus Junior Championship in 2011.
“Mission Hills continues to play an important role in supporting the development of young golfers in China, and give them an opportunity to compete in a quality event and give them a lasting impression of tournament golf,” Nicklaus said. “That is among the reasons and goals we set when we launched the Jack Nicklaus Junior Championship with Mission Hills. We are delighted to see the tournament being a stepping stone for the likes Guan Tianlang and Wo Cheng, both of whom are now competing on the world stage.”
It is a sentiment echoed by Vice Chairman of Mission Hills Group, Tenniel Chu, who added, “Junior golf development has always been a key component of our tournament schedule here at Mission Hills. We’ve hosted something in the region of 3,000 rounds of junior competition over the years, which is a figure we’re immensely proud of and we look forward to seeing many more rising stars break onto the world stage in the future.”
The 14-year-old Masters sensation Guan, who has been a regular at the Mission Hills Jack Nicklaus Championship since 2009, said, “I’m really lucky to have been introduced to the game at a really young age [4 years old] and I’ve always enjoyed playing at Mission Hills in some of the junior tournaments there, which has definitely helped me develop my game and I hope that lots more kids get to benefit from it, too. The Jack Nicklaus Junior Championship has always been a really exciting tournament and I’ve been able to meet with Mr Nicklaus in the US, which was pretty special.”
Mission Hills’ 2013 event calendar includes Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, Faldo Series China Championship, Jack Nicklaus Junior Championship, ANNIKA Invitational, and Mission Hills Golf Series Junior Tour.
Additionally, in a move widely praised by the R&A and international golfing community, the Club announced at the beginning of the year, that all junior golfers under the age of 16 will benefit from free access to a number of the club’s courses throughout the year in an effort to address the issue of club-access among young golfers in China.