Cheng Jin fired a tournament-low, 5-under 65 to win the PGA TOUR Series-China Mainland China Qualifying Tournament for a second straight year. This time, though, instead of heading back to college, Jin is planning to play a full season on the Tour after making the decision last month to leave the University of Southern California midway through his junior year.
After a stellar amateur career, Jin playing in his first tournament as a professional was the main focus this week, and he didn’t disappoint, carding rounds of 67-71-69-65 to finish with an 8-under total of 272 to secure a seven-stroke, wire-to-wire victory at Foison Golf Club.
Teenage amateur Enqi Liang, who started the day two-shots behind Jin, carded a 70 to secure solo second and also earn one of 12 full cards available this week. Finishers 13-35, including ties, all earned conditional status through the first six events.
Amateurs Han Xue, Yue Liu, Peiyi Tan, Senshou Cao, and Yichen Wang, also finished in the top 12 and will now have to make some decisions. They will be able to play on the Tour with their amateur status but would need to turn pro in order to become a Tour member. Shuai Liu, Ming Pang, Zhi Xing, Zhijun Ou, and Zhao Chen were the other players to earn full cards.
Many leading Chinese players already have status on this year’s PGA TOUR Series-China through the 2018 Order of Merit or their China Golf Association ranking. The top-five players on this year’s Order of Merit will earn status on the Web.com Tour, the path to the PGA TOUR.
Jin, was the star from day one, holding a five-shot lead after the first and second rounds and a two-shot lead after the third round but saved his best score for the final day. Jin credits his putting to the low score, which included seven birdies against two bogeys.
“I putted much better today compared to the last two days, and I started off really well so there wasn’t a lot of pressure after that,” said Jin. “Over the week, I am satisfied with how I played and I got the job done so I’m looking forward to more golf.”
Jin remains the youngest winner on the PGA TOUR Series-China after the-then 16-year-old won the 2014 Nine Dragons Open in Zhejiang province. Then in 2015, Jin won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship to earn a spot in the following year’s Masters Tournament.
Now Jin is excited to play a full season on the Tour as he looks to follow in the footsteps of Yechun Yuan, who left the University of Washington early and turned pro, parlaying his fall season on the Tour into a Web.com Tour card.
“I feel great to get my full card and I am excited for the season to start,” said Jin. “I got the job done this week and I am looking forward to see what I am capable of doing this year and to see some of my friends on the PGA TOUR Series-China.”
Liang, who was playing in his hometown this week, has also had amateur success, winning last year’s China Amateur Championship in July when he was just 16 years old.
Liang, 17, is hoping to continue the good play throughout the season and has even set some pretty big goals for the future.
“I feel very satisfied with my performance, and I played really well all week so I hope I can keep playing well,” said Liang. “One of my goals in life is to play on the Web.com Tour, or even the PGA TOUR, just like Zecheng Dou and Xinjun Zhang.”