AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) Li Haotong made his first bogey in his first Masters, and he has been lucky it wasn’ t even worse.
He was captured in the trees left of the tenth fairway. It took him 4 shots just to reach the eco-friendly, and he still had 7 ft to navigate. Li made the particular bogey putt, a big relief for that 22-year-old from China.
” Literally almost say, `Amen’ down there, ” Li said together with his infectious smile.
Probably it was a premonition.
Li proceeded to make three directly birdies around Amen Corner upon Thursday, starting with a 35-footer through off the green using the belly associated with his wedge en route to a 69. He doesn’ t have a deeply understanding of the tradition at Augusta National, but he could tell it was special.
” Very lucky today, ” Li mentioned.
It’ s portion of his self-deprecating nature that produced Li a favorite of Web. possuindo Tour players when he very first played a full circuit in America. Yet his peers know better, whether or not they watch him play or take a look at his results.
He or she won four times on smaller sized circuits as a teenager, winning the particular Order of Merit on the PGA Tour China Series. He gained his first European Tour occasion in 2016 at the Volvo Open up in his native China. But their most recent big moments in golfing really got everyone’ s interest.
Li qualified for your Masters by closing with a 63 at Royal Birkdale in the Uk Open last summer. Earlier this year, this individual rallied to beat Rory McIlroy in a duel at the Dubai Wilderness Classic that allowed him in order to crack the top 50 in the world initially.
” Take a lots of confidence from Rory that 7 days, ” Li said. ” Really, after that week, I’ ve already been struggling a little bit on my placing. I’ ve been working a great deal on that, and you can see nowadays I make a lot of par putts. So I just have to keep going. ”
It was a wild back again nine for Li, who produced only one par at No . seventeen. For close to an hour, however , call him by his name was atop those white leaderboards around Augusta National with Tony Finau until Jordan Spieth overtook in the final hour of a challenging day.
Li has been three shots behind, with no issues.
” I thought I’ m going to be nervous in the first tee, ” he mentioned. ” It was all right. So simply quite happy to have such an excellent opening round. ”
Li was only 17 whenever another Chinese player, 14-year-old Guan Tianling, played in the Masters because the Asia-Pacific Amateur champion and produced the cut. It was a sign that will China was slowly emerging within golf. Also in the field this week will be Lin Yuxin, who won the particular Asia-Pacific Amateur last year. He opened up with a 79.
Li is leading the way.
This individual entered the week at Number 42 in the world and played strongly in his first official trip about Augusta National. Li first performed the course a week ago for exercise, and it was everything he dreamed from the images he saw on tv.
” Everything is much like amazing, ” Li said.
He doesn’ t keep in mind the first Masters he watched, just that he would stay up to view in Shanghai when the tournament arrived on at midnight.
Con. E. Yang of South Korea is the only Asian-born player in order to win a major, taking down Tiger Woods in 2009 at the PGA Championship in Hazeltine. With each major, a lot more players from Asian countries are starting to get regulars in the field. For this Masters, 4 players are from Japan, 2 are from China, one through Thailand, one from South Korea and one from India.
Typical of so many players their age, it was Woods who assisted to inspire Li.
Woods first played in Cina in the HSBC Champions in 2006, the year Woods won the Experts and British Open. Li’ s i9000 father had a friend who needed his own son to start playing golf, therefore Li agreed to tag along for your first lesson.
” His son needed a friend, therefore my dad brought me to the course, ” Li said in an job interview two years ago. ” I adored my first time on the golf course. I believed, `This is awesome. ’ After that day time, I started to play golf. ”
He said that buddy of his now is in the army. Li is in the Masters, plus doing just fine.