Date: November 03, 2009

Sherratt finishes third at Asian Amateur

Han Chang-won of Korea enjoyed the finest moment of his young golfing career when he booked a place at the 2010 Masters Tournament and International Final Qualifying for the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews with a dominant victory in the inaugural Asian Amateur Championship in China today (Sunday). Leading by two shots overnight, the 17-year-old earned a trip to Augusta National next April by crushing the competition with a final-round two-under-par 70 at Mission Hills Golf Club’s World Cup Course, located about 90 minutes north of Hong Kong. Han finished with a 72-hole total of 276 (-12), five shots in front of compatriot and playing partner Eric Chun, who could only manage a 73. Chun joins his countryman in the final qualifying stage for next year s Open, the 150th anniversary of the championship. Three players Korea s Kim Meen-whee, Peter Spearman-Burn of New Zealand and Jordan Sherratt from Australia shared third on 282, with Australia s Matthew Giles sixth, one shot further back on five-under-par 283. In an indication of the depth of the field, seven different APGC member nations were represented in the top 10 places at the tournament s conclusion. Understandably, Han was thrilled with the victory. I knew I was leading by five or six after the first nine holes, but I was trying not to think about the result. Anything can happen in a round of golf and I was very nervous towards the end. I have to admit that it was the thought of playing in the Masters that made me nervous. I had never even thought it would be possible for me to be playing in the Masters as an amateur. Despite his shyness, the youngster is already thinking ahead. I would like to play with K.J. Choi or Tiger (Woods) in the Masters. The lead grew from his overnight buffer of two strokes when Chun made a bogey at the first. Han, the individual champion at last month s Nomura Cup (Asia Pacific Teams Championship), picked up two more shots at the par-five second with a timely eagle. A bogey at the fourth briefly saw the lead go back to two shots from a fast-charging Spearman-Burn, who was four-under on the day after eight holes, and Australia s Giles, who also started quickly and was at seven-under for the round after 11 holes. However, the relentless determination of the Jeju Island resident was too much for the competition. He added birdies at six, seven, 11 and 12 to build his lead to six shots. Despite bogeys at three of the final five holes, his domination was complete. While disappointed to miss out on victory, Chun went away happy with his place in International Final Qualifying for the 2010 Open and a chance for some sort of qualifying redemption. Said Chun: I was happy with how I played this week. I started poorly and played really well on the second and third days and gave myself a chance and that is what you have to do in tournaments. You have to stay patient, which is what I did, and I am happy with second place. The IFQ is a huge opportunity. Earlier this year I got to the final stage of qualifying for the US Open. I was leading by two shots with three holes to play and finished bogey-par-bogey and went into a play-off and lost. That is a bad memory, so I am hoping to get a little payback, he said. The student at Northwestern University in Chicago was impressed with his playing partner s game too. He was really solid and that is the thing about Korean golfers is that they are really strong mentally. You can t really expect them to play badly and that is what Han did today. He made a lot of pars, with a birdie here and there, and made me have to get aggressive, so I am real happy he did well and hope he plays well at the Masters. The day s early mover was Giles, with the Australian scorching out of the blocks to start with four consecutive birdies before adding extras at the sixth, 10th and 11th holes to get to seven-under on the day and share second. However, a double-bogey when he found water at the par-three 13th halted his charge. Han will join Y. E. Yang, the first Asian winner of a Major championship, and Ben An, the winner of this year s US Amateur Championship, in an appropriate finale to a phenomenal year for Korean golf at all levels around the globe. Courtesy of today s win, the Asian Amateur Championship winner will now join his better-known compatriots at the Masters Tournament. Local fans were able to see the bright future on offer for Chinese golf with three of their young stars Hu Mu, Han Ren, who held the outright lead after day one, and Zhang Xin-jun, who fired Saturday s equal low round with a 66 finishing tied for 11th.