Aged just 12, Ye Wo-cheng will etch his name into European Tour history in six weeks’ time when he competes in the Volvo China Open, having secured one of the three qualifying spots at the Western Qualifier in Chengdu on Wednesday.
Ye will become the youngest player to tee up in a European Tour event when the Volvo China Open takes place from May 2-5, beating Guan Tian-lang, who qualified for last year’s tournament aged 13 years and 173 days.
Ye confessed to feeling nervous when standing on the first tee at Wolong Valley Country Club, but soon dispelled them with an opening birdie to five under par, having signed for a round of 68 on the first day.
Another birdie on the second hole brought him level at the top of the leaderboard with playing partner Li Xin-yang, and a further gain on the par three eighth hole saw the schoolboy from Dongguan take the outright lead on seven under par.
“I couldn’t have got off to a much better start,” he said. “I actually slept very well last night, so I was really looking forward to the round. My dad told me to just relax and enjoy it, but it was actually quite a nerve-wracking day.”
Despite dropping shots after the turn, including a triple bogey at the 16th after he was penalised two strokes for accidentally dislodging a tree leaf on his backswing, Ye comfortably qualified on two under par.
The qualifier was won by jointly by Li and China national team member Jin Da-xin, who both finished on five under par.
“Playing in a European Tour event will be a whole new experience for me so I’ll be practicing very hard for Tianjin,” said Ye. “I will also be doing some gym work to get stronger, as I’ve heard that Binhai Lake is a long golf course.”
Ye’s coach David Watson was on hand to see his charge achieve the ambition he set himself twelve months ago.
“It was only a matter of time before he landed a really big one like this,” said the Guangdong-based Briton. “He’s been shooting in the 60s regularly over the past few months, so I am not surprised at all to see him qualify for the Volvo China Open. I could not be more proud of him.”
Per Ericsson, President, Volvo Event Management, said: “This really underlines the amazing development of golf in China, and we are happy to again play a central role. We are looking forward to welcoming Ye Wo-cheng to the Volvo China Open in Tianjin in May, when he, together with other upcoming Chinese players, will meet the challenge of international top professionals.”
Mikael Eriksson, Tournament Director of the Volvo China Open, said: “Our congratulations go to Ye Wo-cheng for a remarkable performance in qualifying for the Volvo China Open at the age of just 12. We look forward to seeing him compete at Binhai Lake in May, where he will beat Guan Tian-lang’s record as the youngest player to compete on The European Tour.”
The 19th staging of the Volvo China Open takes place from May 2-5 at Tianjin Binhai Lake Golf Club near Tianjin, 130km south-east of Beijing.
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