Stormy weather could not dampen the talent or enthusiasm of almost 100 young players who took part in this week’s Mission Hills Jack Nicklaus Junior Championship in China.
A total of 97 players from eight countries and territories—China, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Philippines, Korea, Australia, and the USA—battled for honors on Nicklaus’ historic World Cup Course at Mission Hills Shenzhen.
Scheduled for three days, the tournament was reduced to two rounds when Friday’s final round was cancelled due to heavy rain. That left three players—China’s Ouyang Tian Peng and Ye Wocheng and Chinese Taipei’s Tsai Cheng Yang—tied at 140 in the race to be the boys’ overall champion. A short break in the weather allowed organizers to hold a playoff on the 10th hole, which 14-year-old Ouyang birdied at the first attempt to win the tournament.
China’s Sui Xiang, 15, was crowned the girls’ overall champion with an aggregate score of 143. Ouyang’s victory guarantees him a place in a forthcoming OneAsia Tour event, while Sui’s success means she will be teeing off against some of the biggest names in women’s golf in the World Ladies Championship at Mission Hills Haikou next March.
Thailand’s Thanaphum Khanchitwo won the boys’ 16–18 age group, while Tsai’s playoff disappointment was eased by his victory in the boys’ 12–15 category.
In the girls’ competition, Lai Yi Ting of Chinese Taipei was the 16–18 age group winner, while Yuka Saso of the Philippines was first in the 12–15 group.
“It has been wonderful to see so many talented young players showcasing their skills at our resort, especially in what is such an important year for junior golf in China,” said Mission Hills Group Vice Chairman Tenniel Chu.
“Golf will be making its Olympic reappearance at the Youth Olympics in Nanjing this August, with individual men’s and women’s events and a mixed team event. Some of the players who have competed at Mission Hills this week will be taking part in Nanjing so this will have been a valuable learning experience for them.
“In fact, the Jack Nicklaus Junior Championship has proved an excellent springboard for young players to compete in overseas tournaments such as the World Junior Championship and, in the case of Guan Tianlang, the Masters at Augusta (in 2013).
“It is common knowledge that Mission Hills places huge emphasis on junior golf and we are continuing to work closely with the R&A, China Golf Association, Guangdong Golf Association and national bodies around the region to further develop the game.”
The Jack Nicklaus Junior Championship, first played in 2008, is one of the signature events in Mission Hills’ massive junior development program that will see some 43 tournaments staged in 2014.
Nicklaus, the 18-time major champion, said, “I’d like to congratulate the winners and thank all those who participated in this year’s event. The young men and women played some terrific golf and, just as important, they have conducted themselves wonderfully throughout the championship.
“We should thank everybody at Mission Hills, including the Chu family, for again staging a first-rate tournament and for using a competitive golf environment to show the many wonderful aspects of our game.”
This year, for the first time, scores in the Jack Nicklaus Junior Championship contributed to the China Golf Association’s Junior Rankings. Results from the event are already factored in to the World Amateur Golf Rankings.