China’s Ye Wocheng became the youngest golfer to play a European Tour event when he shot 7-over-par 79 in today’s opening round at the China Open.
Ye, at 12 years and 242 days, broke the previous record for youngest player of 13 years, 177 days set by compatriot Guan Tianlang in last year’s event in Tianjin.
Ye, who made the field through local qualifying, had eight bogeys and one birdie at Binhai Lake Golf Club and is 13 shots behind leader Robert-Jan Derksen of the Netherlands.
“I was a little nervous,” Ye, who holed a long chip for bogey after losing his ball on the par-5 sixth hole, told European Tour Radio. “I tried to enjoy it.”
Ye is among several young Chinese amateurs to qualify for the 156-golfer field. Dou Zecheng, 16, is tied for 11th place after shooting 2-under-par 70, while 15-year-old Bai Zhengkai shot 83.
Derksen, 39, made eight birdies and two bogeys in shooting 66. He’s two shots ahead of France’s Raphael Jacquelin, Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Australian Brett Rumford.
Derksen was 1-over after making his only bogeys at the third and fourth holes before finishing with seven birdies over his final 13 holes.
“It was a funny day, because I started well with a birdie from about five feet, but then three-putted the third and fourth and ended up in three divots on the fairways later in the round,” he told reporters. “But I made a lot of birdies, and I’ve ended the day in a really good position. I started making a few putts and my confidence lifted.”
Scotland’s Paul Lawrie, the 1999 British Open champion, is among six golfers three shots behind Derksen after shooting 69.
Guan, 14, last month became the youngest player to appear and make the cut at a major golf championship at the Masters Tournament. He also made the cut at last weekend’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans on the U.S. PGA Tour.
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