Zhang Lian-wei contemplating PGA Tour bid
Now that he has tasted life on the PGA Tour, Asian Tour stalwart Zhang Lian-wei is contemplating an attempt on the US Qualifying School.
The Chinese ace is amongst the growing number of Asian Tour players who believe they now have the game to take on Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Vijay Singh on a regular basis. Last month, the Shenzhen-based golfer played on sponsors' invites in the FedEx St Jude Classic and The Memorial Tournament and the outings gave him a good impression.
He played in all four rounds at the FedEx but missed the cut in the Jack Nicklaus-hosted event in the following week.
"I accumulated 20 birdies, which showed that I can play on American courses. Unfortunately, I had an equal number of bogeys and double bogeys which left me at even par for the tournament (in St Jude). It goes to show that I need time to learn playing on a new course which is very challenging.
"It was an honour to play on the US PGA Tour which I think the playing standard is the highest in the world. It was good to play alongside some top players. Playing in the US gave me an excellent opportunity to broaden my horizons as I've already played regularly in Asia , Japan and Europe ," said Zhang.
The Asian Tour's presence in the US is growing rapidly, with Korea 's Choi Kyung-ju spearheading the way. India 's Arjun Atwal, last season's Asian number one, Korean youngster Kevin Na and Asian Tour members Ted Purdy and Daniel Chopra are playing full-time on the world's leading circuit.
"I met KJ Choi and he was encouraging and said he'd love to see me back in America . In fact, he's encouraging me to go through the Qualifying School but I've already got a full calendar this year and will consider it in the near future," said Zhang, who was ranked second in Asia last season.
In April, Zhang made history by becoming the first mainland Chinese player to feature in the Masters, the year's first Major, and agonisingly missed the cut by one shot. "After my appearance at the Masters in April, I was better prepared for my second visit to the US . Being at the Masters, I learned to handle the pressure better especially with so many fans at events on the US PGA Tour. At the FedEx, I wasn't nervous and treated it as a normal event."
The Chinese number one, who has scalped the likes Els, Colin Montgomerie and Nick Price in tournament play, is the only player from his country to win on the European Tour following his success in Singapore last year and his next aim would be to conquer America .
He said that he also had the opportunity to meet world number one Woods and golf legend Nicklaus during The Memorial. "It was a pleasure to meet Tiger Woods at the driving range but the biggest honour was speaking to Jack Nicklaus and thanking him in person for the opportunity to play in his event. Jack provided words of encouragement and was very excited at the increased level of play in Asia and wished me all the best," said Zhang, who is China 's golf ambassador as he plays on the European Tour and Japan Golf Tour.
He said that one of his main challenges if he eventually gets another taste at life on the US PGA Tour is to find the right Chinese restaurant at tournament venues.
"When I'm abroad, the challenges that I face are the simple things such as getting from one tournament to another, driving from the hotel to the golf venue and most importantly, finding the right Chinese restaurant!
"There were many in the US and it was more challenging to find the food that I enjoy which is simple home-cooked Cantonese food," added Zhang. "I would certainly like to return to the US next year and perhaps bring my wife to share my experience."
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