An interview with Chinese no. 1 Liang Wen-chong
Wen-chong is currently the hottest property in Chinese golf. He
capped a fantastic 12-month spell with victory in the Clariden Leu
Singapore Masters in early March, an event jointly sanctioned by
the European and Asian Tours.
With playing rights on the Japan, European and Asian Tours, the
golf world is his oyster but, as his amazing acts of generosity
have shown, he has not forgotten his roots. The 28-year-old has
twice donated his prize money to aid the development of golf in
China, gestures which have been applauded by his peers. Liang supported
the Omega China Tour last season, winning both legs he competed
in, and says that he will play as many events as possible on the
Q. You supported the Omega China Tour last season and won the final
event. Will you play in any of the events this year?
A. I will try and make time to play Omega China Tour events. I
am also playing other events (in Asia, Japan and Europe). I will
try my best to attend.
Q. You donated your prize money from the final event back to the
China Tour. Could you explain your decision, I understand you wanted
the money to go to set up a foundation or a system to assist talented
young players to go abroad and play and to experience the high standard
of events like you have.
A. I feel it is very good to have such a Tour in China. I want
to be very supportive of it. The middle range players, the ones
who are not very famous yet, are facing difficulties. It is hard
for them to go abroad and play. By donating the money I hope to
encourage people who support the sport, to encourage people who
like the sport to be more supportive. Generate an atmosphere where
everyone supports golf and more importantly have more sponsors to
support golf in China. I hope that because of what I have done people
will follow me and be more supportive of golf. I have walked the
path (which Chinese golfers are walking at the moment) and it was
not easy. Zhang Lian-wei was the first golfer from China that played
internationally and became famous and I learned a lot from him and
his experiences. I am hoping that other players can benefit from
my experiences. Zhang has set a standard for other Chinese golfers
and I have benefited from that. Thai players are very good. There
are a group of them and usually they have one person who travels
with them on the Asian Tour. They have one person to take care of
them while they are playing abroad and I think that is a very good
thing (which China could follow).
Q. Which up and coming Chinese players do you feel could make it
on the Asian Tour and progress into Europe and America.
A. It is difficult to name individuals because the Omega China
Tour has only started recently. I believe that at least the top
10 players will make it onto the Asian Tour soon. The most important
thing is to have someone help them solve problems. How do they register
for tournaments, how do they enter an event, how do they book tickets,
who do they look for to get information at a tournament - if they
have all these details to worry about they are not going to play
golf very well. The Omega China Tour is now established and it has
taught them how to play events. I think that most of the players
in the top 10 of the rankings should make it (to the Asian Tour
and beyond) somehow.
Q. You were leading the UBS Order of Merit on the Asian Tour for
a while earlier in the season. That must have been a thrill - do
you see it as an indicator of the progress you are making.
A. Of course, I was very happy. But knowing golf, I know there
is still a long way to go. A small success is not the end of it.
I will try and have a higher ranking in the future. I want to play
more events - I am playing on two tours, Japan Tour and Asian Tour
(he also has his European Tour card), and I will try and do my best
on both tours.
Q. You have taken over from Zhang Lian-wei as number one in China.
What sort of responsibility does that unofficial title bring with
A. I am thankful for the support and for what people have said
(that I am the new number one in China). But, as I have said before,
this is a long path and I do not think such a title is very appropriate
yet as there are still so many things I have to face in the future
and I do not want it to be said that I have replaced Zhang as Zhang
will always be the icon of China golf. That is true in the past
and will continue to be true in the future because he has contributed
a lot and Zhang will continue to have an influence in golf for a
long time. And I do not think one person should represent China
golf, it should be a team of players, It should be all about teamwork
and team power, not like a one man show. I think that teamwork and
team power is the key for the future of China golf but being number
one today it does not mean you will be number one tomorrow. Competition
is very practical and very good. You have to keep competing to stay
Q. Zhang played in the Masters. Are appearances in the Majors on
your radar, even a victory in one?
A. I think that this path is a long path. I am still trying to
negotiate it. I want to play Majors, it is the dream of every professional
golfer. I hope to improve my world ranking by playing more events
and doing well in them. I will try and achieve this dream step by
April 24, 2007