HONG KONG: It was a dream come true for China’s Jin Cheng.
The 17-year-old booked a dream US Masters spot at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia next April.
And he did it without having to lift a single club on Sunday. He was crowned champion of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship after the final round at the Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club was cancelled due to inclement weather.
Jin Cheng finished with a 54-hole total of 11-under 199. Australian duo Ryan Ruffels and Cameron Davis finished joint second a further shot back.
“This win came so fast, so sudden. I was ready to play today but unfortunately it didn’t happen,” said Jin Cheng, who emulated countryman Guan Tianlang’s feat in 2012.
“To secure a berth in the Masters is just amazing. I’m so excited and looking forward to it.”
Jin Cheng reckoned that it was the superb opening eight-under 62 that played a big part in his victory.
“My lowest-ever tournament score was important for this week’s win,” he added.
The ending was an anti-climax but not unexpected. As forecasted, heavy showers and strong winds caused by tropical storm Mujigae wreaked havoc at Clearwater Bay, causing a lengthy suspension in play.
The first group teed off as scheduled at 6.40am, but play was suspended at 7.41am.
The conditions did not improve by midday and the organisers were forced to call off the final round.
Ruffels said he and Davis were gutted not to have a shot at the title due to the bad weather.
“The organisers did their best trying to get us out there to play. But there’s not much you can do when the conditions are like that.
“Full credit to Jin Cheng as he played well this week. But we would have liked to have a crack at it today,” added Ruffels.
As runners-up, Ruffels and Davis earned tickets to the two British Open qualifying series finals at the Royal Troon in Scotland next year.
Chan Tuck Soon emerged as the best-placed Malaysian at joint 27th on 210. Low Khai Jei finished with a 216 total to be placed 51st while Daeng Abdul Rahman Abdul Aziz was 62nd and last in the field.
The other three Malaysians – Ervin Chang, Galven Kendall Green and Muhd Afif Razif – failed to make the cut. Still, it was an improvement from last year’s event in Melbourne, Australia, where only two out of the six Malaysians survived the cut.