BEIJING // China's 12-year-old Ye Wocheng will become the European Tour's youngest player when he tees off at the Volvo China Open on Thursday, smashing the record set by April's Masters sensation Guan Tianlang.
The two go head-to-head a year after Guan played in his country's Open in Tianjin at age 13 years and 177 days, and just three weeks later he finished with the Silver Cup at Augusta National as top-placed amateur.
Ye will be almost a year younger, at 12 years and 242 days, when he tees off at Tianjin Binhai Lake Golf Club in a field that boasts several young players and emerging Chinese talent.
"My main aim this week is just to go out there and enjoy it, I don't really want to think too much about the result," said Ye, according to a release from OneAsia, who have co-sanctioned the tournament.
"This course is very long, and it will play even longer in the wind, but it gives me confidence to know that my coach is here to give me tips and advice on how to cope in the conditions. I'm excited about getting started tomorrow."
The South African Branden Grace, 24, who is seeking to become the first player to win the China Open for a second time, said he was comfortable sharing the spotlight with the youngsters.
"It's amazing. I only started playing the game at 11, so I wouldn't like to think what handicap I was playing off when I was 12," he said.
"I'll be looking out for [Ye's] results here this week, as I'm sure will most other people. It's a great story, great for him and for the game of golf in general."
Other products of the Chinese golf boom will also feature, including Bai Zhengkai, 16, thanks to his victory in last year's Volvo China Junior Match Play Championship. The American teen Jim Liu, who in 2010 became the youngest US Junior Amateur champion, at the age of 14, will also tee off.
Should Ye, who earned his spot by winning a qualifying tournament in March, make the cut, he will easily outdo Hong Kong's Jason Hak, who became the youngest player to reach the weekend rounds of a European Tour event, aged 14 and 304 days, at the 2008 Hong Kong Open.
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