Hong Kong’s Jason Hak Shun-yat made a name for himself after becoming the youngest player ever to make the cut on the European Tour.
Until recently, simply making the weekend would have been an achievement for the 22-year-old who grabbed the headlines at the 2008 UBS Hong Kong Open at Fanling.
But having last made a cut at a ranking event back in Hong Kong on 2011 before a run of recent strong returns on the PGA Tour China Series, Hak’s name is now more accustomed to appear towards the top of the leaderboard.
And having claimed the biggest result of his professional career at last week’s NewTown KingRun Open in Chongqing, where he secured a tie for second place, Hak blazed nine birdies in the first round of this week’s Pingan Bank Open in Beijing on Thursday to claim a one shot lead after a eight-under-par 64.
“Obviously, I had another great round going. I started out with a birdie and was three-under through four and five-under after seven. I played good,” said Hak, who made just 28 putts during his round.
“Everything was under my control the majority of the time. When I start again, I hope I can keep my momentum going.”
Show me the money: Hong Kong’s Jason Hak claims biggest cheque of professional career at PGA China Tour Series event
Hak held a three shot lead over his fellow morning starters at Topwin Golf and Country Club only for American Charlie Saxon to also post just the solitary bogey in a seven-under 65 to claim second place a further shot clear of Italian Cristiano Terragni.
“You have to be aggressive on the holes that give you chances. But on my bogey, I wasn’t right to attack, and that cost me. I gave myself a lot of chances today, which was great,” added Hak, who has reached a career-high place in the world rankings.
“My irons were great, and my putting was great. Usually when those two things are good, I’m looking at a pretty good round.”
Hak has earned 149,429 yuan (HK$173,000) in five events this season on the PGA Tour China Series and he currently sits in 15th place on the order of merit after posting back-to-back top 10 finishes.
The circuit will make its first stop outside of mainland China at the Clearwater Bay Open in Hong Kong in November, which is the next event scheduled on the PGA Tour China Series calender.