Teenage Hong Kong amateur Isaac Lam will literally and figuratively not be in short pants anymore later this week after earning a place in the field for the PGA Tour China Series Clearwater Bay Open in Monday’s mammoth play-off.
The 17-year-old came through the eight-man showdown for the four remaining places at Clearwater Bay Golf Country Club alongside 16-year-old fellow Hong Kong amateur Yue Yin-ho after the pair earlier carded rounds of two-over-par 72.
But Lam will have to adjust his attire for Thursday’s first round of the November 3-6 Ұ1.2 million (HK$1.4m) tournament after receiving a ticking off from rules officials for wearing shorts during Monday’s qualifier.
“This is only the second qualifier for a pro event I ever played having played in the qualifier for the Hong Kong Open at Fanling and missed out by three shots last month,” said Lam, who had fellow Hong Kong teammate Gabrielle DeSombre as caddy.
Watch: Isaac Lam
“I am super grateful that Gabbie was able to skip school and caddy for me, she is a really good friend of mine. I was able to play my own game today and with her beside me, relaxing me, it was really helpful.”
Lam and Yue had already seen Hong Kong’s Konstantin Liu Lok-tin eliminated at the second hole before sealing their places with pars at the 460-yard 12th.
“It was nerve-wracking and exciting because I have only ever been in two play-offs in my whole career in golf and they were both loses, so to be able to win in the eight-man field was really special for me,” added Lam.
Yue, who last month qualified for December’s Hong Kong Open, did ride his luck during the play-off after needing key par saves at the first two holes before recovering from pulling his tee shot at the 12th onto the teeing area on the adjacent 13th hole.
He held his nerve with a fearless shot over trees and the edge of the lake onto the island green before two putting from nine feet.
“I was pretty consistent during the round making the greens, making the up and downs and crucial par putts,” said Shanghai-born high school student Yue.
“It is indescribable. Those three holes are the three most fun holes I have ever had; it was nervous and it was fun, it was amazing. It was the longest three holes I have played in my life.”
American Garrett Sapp topped the qualifying leaderboard after a five-under-par 65 to automatically earn his place in the 120-man field alongside compatriots Alvin Cheung and Thomas Johnson, Malaysia’s Muhammad Arie Irawan Ahmad Fauzi, Ireland’s Brian O’Donovan and Australia’s Nathan Goulding.
Watch: Yue Yin-ho
The success will make Sapp’s call to his wife at home following the birth of their daughter just two weeks ago much easier.
“It’s a little motivation to come out and play some good golf. I am not just playing for myself anymore, so I have got to step it up,” said Sapp, who is starting a run of four events having won the Long Beach Open at the end of July.
“My buddies back home were saying they think when guys have babies they play a little bit better and I feel that is the case.
“I have always given it everything I have got, but I did just win a tournament recently when she was pregnant and she was walking the course the whole way, so it gives me confidence to get things done.”
The Clearwater Bay Open is the first China Series event taking place outside of the mainland and features Hong Kong Kong’s in-form number one Jason Hak Shun-yat and order of merit leader Dou Zecheng, who is now China’s second ranked played behind Wu Ashun having leapfrogged Li Haotong.