/ Golf

Twelve-year-old to smash European Tour record

Updated: Wednesday, 01 May 2013 17:09 | Comments

Ye Wo-cheng was born on 2 September, 2000
Ye Wo-cheng was born on 2 September, 2000

China’s Ye Wo-cheng is set to become the youngest player in European Tour history when he tees off in the Volvo China Open on Thursday.

Ye will be just 12 years and 242 days old when he plays his first round alongside Spain's Jose Manuel Lara and Australian Scott Strange at Binhai Lake Golf Club in Tianjin.

Guan Tianlang, who made the cut at the Masters, set the previous record for the youngest player on the Tour when he played in the Volvo China Open last year at 13 years and 177 days old.

"I'm very happy to be the youngest player on the European Tour, and also a little nervous at the same time," said Ye.

"But I'm looking forward to the tournament and hopefully I can play well. My main aim this week is just to go out there and enjoy it, I don't really want to think too much about the result.

"It's very helpful that I have my coach [David Watson] here this week, because he's taught me a lot about how to play in the wind. This course is very long, and it will play even longer if the wind blows, but it gives me confidence to know that he is here to give me tips and advice on how to cope in the conditions. I'm excited about getting started tomorrow."

Ye is joined in the field by 15-year-old Bai Zheng-kai and 16-year-old Dou Ze-cheng, and at a combined age of 43 the trio are a year younger than fellow competitor and former Open champion Paul Lawrie.

Ye and Dou earned their places in the field after coming through qualifying events, while Bai earned his starting berth courtesy of his victory in the Volvo China Junior Match Play Championship.

South African Branden Grace, who is bidding to become the first player to successfully defend the Volvo China Open title this week, praised Ye's achievements.

He said: "It's amazing. I only started playing the game at 11, so I wouldn't like to think what handicap I was playing off when I was 12. I spoke to his coach yesterday and he told me he's been winning almost every amateur tournament he's played in this year.

"I'll be looking out for his results here this week, as I'm sure will most other people. It's a great story, great for him and for the game of golf in general."

Grace's three-shot win over Ryder Cup star Nicolas Colsaerts last year was one of five tournament victories in 2012, while he finished 18th on his Masters debut at Augusta last month.

"I took a week off after the Masters then unfortunately I caught a little bit of flu so it hasn't been the ideal preparation for the week," he said after the pre-tournament pro-am on Wednesday. "But I played very nicely today and didn't make any bogeys, so that bodes well."

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