Hong Kong Open: Matthew Cheung takes top amateur gong to prime himself for professional tilt

Posted: Thursday, 29 Nov 2018

Matthew Cheung Hung-hai’s final score of 13 over par in the Honma Hong Kong Open doesn’t tell the full story and doesn’t even go close to doing the 23-year-old’s performance at Fanling justice.

It was a final round of nine-over-par 79 on Sunday that did most the damage for Cheung, but before that he produced some sublime golf to ensure he was the only Hong Kong player and the only amateur to make the cut in a tournament won by England’s Aaron Rai with 17 under.

He did that with rounds of 71 and 70 on the opening two days to enter the weekend one over par and took heart from the myriad positives from the first half of the tournament after a tough final day.

“There are definitely positives from the week, I’m playing in a European Tour event. There is a lot of good players out there and I have definitely learned a lot this week,” he said.

“It’s always the goal at the start of the week to make the cut but it wasn’t too great the last two rounds.

“I had back spasms today so I was struggling to get through the ball, I was hitting it nowhere so it was tough.”

After missing the cut in his Open debut last year, Cheung was just happy to be playing the tournament again after winning the local qualifier last month.

“It’s always a goal for us to get into this tournament but to be leading Hong Kong player is something else. It’s special, for sure,” he said.

Cheung completed a finance degree at Oklahoma City University last year but is determined to forge a career in golf after returning to Hong Kong permanently last August.

He is priming himself for the PGA Tour of Australasia’s qualifying school in early December and will also attempt to qualify for the Asian Tour.

The PGA Tour China is another option for Cheung, with Jason Hak Shun-yat and Motin Yeung proving Hong Kong players can succeed in the mainland.

“They are both really good golfers and they’ve both won on that tour, so I’d like to follow in their footsteps,” he said.

“I saw them at the Clearwater Bay Open when I played there recently and it definitely motivates me.”

Cheung says his four days at Fanling have made it clear what he needs to work on if he is going to make it as a professional.

“They are all super solid with their ball striking and they are good with their wedges and irons,” he said of his competitors. “That’s something I need to work on and something I know I’m lacking right now.”

The other four locals to play in the Open – Steven Lam Tsz-fung, Ben Wong Shuai-ming, Alvin Cheung and Jonathan Lai – found the going tough and missed the cut by considerable margins, with Cheung and Lam finishing on seven over after the opening two days. Wong carded a 13-over-par two day score of 153, while Lai finished on 20 over.

Photo and news source: SCMP