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Macgregor Hk Junior Open Championship

Thai Talent (clockwise from far left): Suchaya and Nacha with their trophies; neither Steven Lam or Tiffany Chan could mount any significant challenge; Nacha chips to the final hole.

RISING TO THE OCCASION

Shinichi and Stephanie settle for second after enthralling final day’s play

Photography by Patrick Leung

H

ong Kong’s juniors might have been pipped to top honours at the MacGregor Hong Kong Junior Open Championship by players from Thailand for the third straight year, but the tournament will be remembered for the emergence of Shinichi Mizuno and Stephanie Ho as international-class performers. Prior to the event, expectations for local success were put firmly on the shoulders of Steven Lam and Tiffany Chan. Lam, 15, who has dominated the domestic golf scene over the past few years, was coming off an impressive run of form, highlighted by his brilliant second place at the Royal & Ancient’s Junior Open at Hesketh Golf Club in July. Meanwhile, 14-year-old Chan was swinging as well as she had ever done, her recent fourth place finish at the Callaway World Junior Championships in California just reward for the countless hours she has spent honing her game over the past twelve months. 26

HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008

WWW.HKGA.COM

But the talented duo failed to make any serious title challenge at Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club. Despite a 73 in the final round, which lifted him to a share of fourth place, Lam’s hopes had already been extinguished by a 76 on the first day—an unfortunate quadruple bogey eight at the tough thirteenth hole proving to be his undoing. Chan, by contrast, started solidly enough but slumped to a closing 83. “I kept pulling my iron shots,” she bemoaned. Instead it was Mizuno and Ho who were left flying the flag for the SAR—and who very nearly pulled off famous victories. By his own admission, Mizuno hasn’t enjoyed the steadiest of seasons. While long off the tee, the Nagoya-born West Island School student has struggled with his short game; his putting hindering the kind of scoring his brilliant ball-striking deserves. But a recent change of equipment and some lengthy sessions on the practice green has instilled some much-needed confidence, which was much in evidence as he breezed to an opening round of 71. WWW.HKGA.COM

Just two strokes behind eventual winner Nacha Patchana heading into the final day’s play, Mizuno belied any nerves he may have had with a succession of solid pars to start the round. But despite making the turn in only oneover-par, the 14-year-old quickly found himself out of contention as Nacha got off to a flying start, recording three early birdies. But then disaster struck. With a commanding lead, the 16-year old Nacha proceeded to b utcher the thirteenth—his quintuple bogey nine the result of a wayward drive and some uncharacteristically poor course management. A lesser player would have folded under the pressure but to his credit, the Bangkok native bounced back superbly with two quick birdies to see off Mizuno’s dogged challenge. HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008

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“He really let me back in it after the mistake,” said Mizuno, who ended the tournament in sole possession of second place on a two-day total of 146 (6-over-par), four adrift of Nacha. “But I couldn’t take advantage and he played great over the closing holes. I’m a little disappointed—I missed a few chances out there—but overall it’s a good result for me.” It was even closer in the Girls’ Division, where Stephanie Ho’s gutsy run at the title was derailed over the final stretch of holes. A 77 in the first round put the Sha Tin College student just one stroke behind leader Suchaya Tangkamolprasert. But the roles were reversed after a sensational front nine of 1-under-par 34 on the final day put Ho in the ascendancy. Leading by three shots after the thirteenth, the 15-year-old was the victim of her own confidence (see Major Moment sidebar) and a series of three-putts, prompted by an unlikely Suchaya birdie at the fourteenth, meant she arrived at the par-five eighteenth one stroke behind. “I knew I needed to birdie to have a chance; I had to be aggressive,” reflected Ho. “I didn’t hit a very good drive, so I needed to try and play a wood from the rough. But I just gave myself too much to do.” The risky shot didn’t come off and the ensuing double bogey meant she finished the tournament three behind Suchaya in second place. It was an unfortunate end to an otherwise stellar performance from Ho, but she can take comfort that as Hong Kong’s highest-placed player in the territory’s premier junior event, she has emerged from the shadow of the Mak twins and best friend Tiffany Chan as one of Hong Kong’s leading female golfers.

And second for Stephanie: Ho’s iron play was solid all week; reflecting on what might have been; Suchaya holed out spectacularly on the fourteenth.

Major Moment Leading by three and in command of the tournament, Stephanie Ho put her tee shot to the par-three fourteenth onto the green and in good position. Her nearest competitor, Thailand’s Suchaya Tangkamolprasert, also found the putting surface but was some thirty feet from the hole, outside of Ho’s marker. Incredibly, Suchaya’s rollercoaster putt found the bottom of the cup for a birdie two. Stunned, Ho proceeded to threeputt, which resulted in a two-stroke swing and, crucially, a loss of momentum. “I was playing well and putting great up until that point,” said Ho. “If anything, I was too confident; I really expected to win the tournament, as Clearwater Bay is one of my favourite courses. But that three-putt changed everything. My approach shots were really good for the rest of the round, but I just couldn’t hole a putt.”

Second for Shinichi: Great driving was the key to Mizuno’s run at the title; a handshake for the champion. 28

HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008

WWW.HKGA.COM

WWW.HKGA.COM

HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008

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HK Winners

MacGregor winners: Kitty Tam topped the Girls’ 11-12 age division; Sihao Yan prevailed in the Boy’s 9-10 age group.

Despite finishing second in the overall Boy’s and Girls’ categories, Shinichi Mizuno and Stephanie Ho were rewarded for their fine play with victories in the 13-14 and 15-17 age divisions. Congratulations also to Kitty Tam (Girls’ 11-12), Sihao Yan (Boy’s 9-10) and Alan Jiang (Boy’s 7-8) on their division wins.

OVERALL BOY’S TOP TEN 1 Nacha Patchana 2 Shinichi Mizuno 3 Rattanon Wannasrichan 4= Ashwin Bhanu Steven Lam 6= Pitchakorn Tirakul Gregory Foo 8= Jason Ho Mickey Chan Marcus Lam OVERALL GIRLS’ TOP TEN 1 Suchaya Tangkamolprasert 2 Stephanie Ho 3= Thanuttra Boonraksasat Chuang Hsin-yun 5 Hsu Wei-ling 6 Tiffany Chan 7= Michelle Cheung Nicola Inge 9 Stephanie Olea 10 Thitipuk Teeratrakul

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HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008

(THA) (HKG) (THA) (SIN) (HKG) (THA) (SIN) (HKG) (HKG) (HKG)

(THA) (HKG) (THA) (TPE) (TPE) (HKG) (HKG) (HKG) (PHL) (THA)

142 (69-73) 146 (71-75) 148 (71-77) 149 (76-73) 149 (76-73) 151 (77-74) 151 (73-78) 153 (77-76) 153 (75-78) 153 (73-80)

149 (76-73) 152 (77-75) 155 (80-75) 155 (78-77) 159 (82-77) 161 (78-83) 162 (80-82) 162 (78-84) 163 (80-83) 166 (83-83)

WWW.HKGA.COM

WWW.HKGA.COM

HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008

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0809JuniorOpen  

WWW.HKGA.COM 26 HK GOLFERSEPT/OCT 2008 WWW.HKGA.COM HK GOLFERSEPT/OCT 2008 27 Macgregor Hk Junior Open Championship Photography by Patrick L...

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