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Lin Yuxin's victory confirms China's growing strength

(Photo: Asia Pacific Amateur Championship)
The final leaderboard at the past week’s Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship reflects the growing strength of amateur golf in China.

Lin Yuxin, Andy Zhang, Yechun Yuan and Jin Cheng all finished inside the top five in the event at Royal Wellington and while three of those are playing collegiate golf in the US and the winner, Lin, is destined for a collegiate career at the University of Southern California, the emergence of many elite amateurs from China tells the story of the support being given to the game there and in the Asia-Pacific region.

Lin’s victory over Andy Zhang was the third by a Chinese golfer in the last six Asia-Pacific Amateur Championships, a run that began with the almost incomprehensible win by Guan Tianlang little more than a week after his 14th birthday.

Guan would go on to produce one of the greatest ever performances in the history of the game when making the cut as a 14-year-old at the 2013 Masters Tournament, a feat that would resonate throughout the game in China.

“I think for all Chinese players, Guan is our role model because he made it to Augusta and he made the cut," said 2015 champion Jin Cheng.

"It sounds really fun and provides a big motivation for us.”

Guan is struggling with his game at present having missed the cut in each of the last two years but he, too, is now in the US at the University of Arizona and hopefully some consistency and routine will see his brilliance return.

Certainly, from where I stood in Wellington, his golf swing seems some way from the natural swing so evident in his win in Thailand and his great week at Augusta National.

Jin would win in Hong Kong in 2015 after setting a tournament record round of 62 on day one and then yesterday, in a dramatic battle between Lin and Zhang over the closing stages, 17-year-old Lin edged clear with a birdie-eagle finish to win by three.

Lin is one of only three golfers in the now nine-year history of the event to have recorded four rounds in the 60s, joining Hideki Matsuyama - who did so en route to winning in 2010 - and Queenslander Cameron Smith who finished fourth in 2011.

Lin's victory makes China the most prolific winner of the Asia-Pacific Amateur title with three victories verses the two each of South Korea, Australia and Japan.  

Don’t be surprised if we see yet another Chinese winner in 2018 when the event is played at the Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore.

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