Big guns sign up for Zhuhai Leg
two best-known professional golfers have signed up to play in the
China Tour Zhuhai Leg. Zhang Lianwei, the first Chinese golfer to
play in the US Masters, and Liang Wenchong, who spends most of his
time playing on the Japan Golf Tour, will tee it up with the rest
of the Mainland's professionals at the Zhuhai Golden Gulf Golf Club
on Thursday (15th October).
Both players will be making their debuts on the fledgling circuit,
which began in August this year with the aim of helping develop
the growth of professional golf in China through its US$100,000
"We're delighted they've made the commitment. I'm sure they'll
be relishing the chance to see how the China Tour is impacting their
friends and rivals among their fellow professionals," said
Nick Mould, the Senior Vice-President of the World Sport Group who
are the China Golf Association's China Tour partners.
"I hope what they'll notice is how quickly the standard is
improving and how positive and energized the players have become
by the opportunities presented by the China Tour," he added.
For Zhang in particular, the occasion will be memorable as it represents
a homecoming. The 40 year old, who has been a pathfinder for his
trade in China, was born in Nanshui in Zhuhai. Before turning professional
he was a caddie master at one of the city's golf clubs and is relishing
a return to the banks of the Pearl River Delta.
"I feel like I am in my hometown playing there," said
Zhang, who, among the many firsts he has recorded for his country,
is becoming the first Chinese player to win a European PGA event,
when he beat Ernie Els in the Caltex Masters in 2003.
"I have been to the Zhuhai Golden Gulf Golf Club before and
played there, but only once. I am not that familiar with it. However
I will feel as if I am at home playing in Zhuhai. I will feel more
"My aim is just to play with added vigour; come on! Come on!"
Zhang exclaimed "There are so many players from the young generations
emerging, and they are playing quite well also - guys like Li Chao
and Qiu Zhifeng."
In name-checking the winners of the China Tour's first two legs
- Li in Beijing, Qiu in Kunming - Zhang made it clear that, while
he hadn't been playing, he had been watching the developments of
the China Tour's inaugural season.
"I know a little about China Tour from the online media, I
think China Tour offers a good opportunity to Chinese professionals,"
"I heard from other players about the China Tour, and they
told me that the China Tour is a good beginning. From the time of
its being launched on, Chinese professionals have their own tournaments.
In my early career, there were some tournaments, but they weren't
as mature as these events are."
The appearance of the two big names of Chinese golf is certain
to add to the burgeoning interest in the China Tour among the mainland's
media and golf fans. However Mould was at pains to point out that
Liang, another Guangdong native whose earnings on both the Asian
and Japanese circuits this year alone top US$230,000 while his career
winnings are more than three quarters of a million dollars, and
Zhang, who has claimed almost US$900,000 in prize money during his
Asian Tour career, were never the intended target for the China
"As we've said all along the China Tour wasn't designed with
Liang and Zhang in mind. We know there will be times when they will
have other commitments - in Asia, Japan, on the European Tour and,
hopefully, more and more often in the Majors - but when they're
here we are delighted to have them," he said.
October 8, 2005