Ye Wo-cheng is relishing the prospect of becoming the youngest player in European Tour history when he tees up in the first round of the Volvo Golf Champions, where he will be joined by his fellow teens Dou Ze-cheng and Bai Zheng-kai.
At a combined age of 43, the trio are a year younger than one of this week’s other star attractions, Paul Lawrie; but what they lack in experience they make up for in talent, as Ye and Dou earned their places in the elite field after coming through last month’s Qualifiers, whilst Bai earned his starting berth courtesy of his victory in the Volvo China Junior Match Play Championship.
The youngest member of the trio, Ye, is aged just 12 years and 241 days, but he is hoping to prove the theory that “if you are good enough, you are old enough” when he tees up alongside European Tour champions José Manuel Lara of Spain and Australian Scott Strange – the winner in 2009 – at Binhai Lake Golf Club, in Tianjin, on this morning.
He said: “I’m very happy to be the youngest player on The European Tour, and also a little nervous at the same time. 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.”
South African Braden Grace, who is bidding to become the first player to successfully defend the Volvo China Open title this week, was certainly in awe of the youngster’s feats.
The four-time European Tour champion 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.
“So 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.”
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