Chinese amateur Cheng Jin makes extensive Masters preparations
Cheng Jin spent the past month preparing in Augusta for the Masters Tournament.
Nothing could have prepared him for the thousands of patrons Monday at Augusta National Golf Club. Playing in the Masters, Jin said, certainly doesn’t compare with a European Tour event.
“Definitely not as many people as here,” the 18-year-old Chinese amateur said. “I mean, today is Monday. I already see tons of people on every hole on the golf course. It’s amazing.”
One of six amateurs in the field, Jin spent the month of March mainly at Champions Retreat Golf Club working on his game and getting acclimated to the Augusta weather. He also spent time at Augusta National, Sage Valley Golf Club and other courses. He said he played five practice rounds at Augusta National before this week.
He played nine holes Sunday with world No. 1 Jason Day.
“He asked me if I’m going to get nervous or not,” Jin said. “I’m like, yeah, for sure. He just helped me to focus more and focus on my game. But he said it’s normal and good to get nervous, but when we come to the shot, we’ve got to get focused.”
Jin qualified for the Masters by winning the rain-shortened Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in October. He opened with a course-record 62 and held on for a one-shot victory after rain washed out the final round.
“It’s like a dream that came true,” Jin said of playing in the Masters. “I’m really excited to play here. Augusta may be the dream of every golfer.”
Jin is going to attempt to duplicate the feat of his friend, Tianlang Guan, the youngest participant in Masters history at age 14 in 2013. Tianlang opened with rounds of 73-75 to become the youngest golfer to make the cut in a major.
Jin has played well in professional events. The amateur won the Nine Dragons Open, a PGA Tour China event, in November 2014.
“Guan definitely played great when he was here, making the cut at 14. He’s definitely hard to beat,” Jin said. “He’s like a legend, making the cut at 14. All I want to do this week is play my best and enjoy everything here.”
Jin said he has no plans to turn professional anytime soon. He plans to enroll this fall at the University of Southern California.