VOLVO CHINA OPEN HAT-TRICK FOR CHINESE STARS? —— European Tour Big Guns Ready to End Chinese Run of Success

Beijing (CHINA): The best golfers in China will be up against many of the finest players on The European Tour when the 23rd Volvo China Open gets underway at Topwin Golf and Country Club in Huairou, Beijing tomorrow (April 27).

With four wins in 22 starts – including back-to-back wins in 2015 and 2016 - Chinese players hold the edge in their own national Open Championship. And while no player has yet to win the title twice, there is a quiet confidence among the local stars that Chinese win number five may well come this week over the 7,261-yard Ian Woosnam-designed course.

Zhang Lian-wei, the only player in the field to have played in the event since day one and the champion in 2003, believes desire to win Chinese golf’s RMB 20 million flagship event runs deep through every local player in the line-up.

“Every single Chinese player in the field dreams of winning our national Open championship,” he said. “To have had four different winners is a big achievement but there is absolutely no reason why we can’t see another victory this weekend and three in a row for Chinese golf.”

One man under more pressure than most is defending champion Li Hao-tong – but if the charismatic 21-year-old is feeling the heat he isn’t showing it.

“There have been a lot of changes in my life because of that win last year but this year I’m just going to treat it like any normal tournament and not put too much pressure on myself,” said Li.

With 41 professionals and amateurs from the world’s most populous nation, home-grown golfers make up more than a quarter of the 156-man field at Topwin Golf and Country Club nestled in the shadow of the Great Wall.

But with the likes of previous champions Nicolas Colsaerts, Brett Rumford, YE Yang, Jeev Milka Singh and Alexander Levy as well as last week’s Shenzhen International winner Bernd Wiesberger in the line-up, there is also plenty of European Tour expertise used to winning on Chinese soil.

Add in to the mix Ross Fisher (currently fifth in The Race to Dubai), talented Dane Thorbjorn Olesen and England’s Chris Wood - who will all be hoping to catch the eye of European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn who is also in the field - and it promises to be quite a contest.

But while Bjorn will he keen to get his competitive juices flowing, at 46 years of age he is under no illusion as to the difficulty of the challenge ahead.

“It’s been a while since I had top finishes in this event and I’m still struggling to play and practice mainly because of injuries and getting older,” he said. “I’ve got a long summer ahead of me where I’ll focus on being able to hit good golf shots again but, for now, it’s great to be here to see players like Olesen, Wood and Wiesberger up close and personal. They have all the talent in the world as golfers but this is a good way for me to get to know them as people.”

Now sixth in The Race to Dubai following last week’s victory in Shenzhen, Wiesberger will be aiming to maintain a recent run of form that has seen him not miss a cut this season and lift his fourth European Tour title.

“Here is certainly different from Shenzhen but we travel a lot and experience a wide variety of conditions on The European Tour so we will be able to adapt quickly,” said the Austrian World Number 30.

Title sponsors Volvo and the co-organising China Golf Association (CGA) have pulled out all the stops to make their flagship event not only a world-class tournament for the players but also a memorable occasion for the growing army of golf fans in this populous nation.

In the Public Village fans will be able to take part in their own golfing events with mini golf, a golf simulator and virtual reality system, long putt and bunker challenges and free golf lessons on offer as Volvo and the CGA continue to promote one of the fastest growing sports in China.

Featuring players from 26 different countries, the 156-man field will begin the Volvo China Open at 6.40am tomorrow (Thursday) with RMB 20 million in prize-money on offer and a further hole-in-one bonus of a Volvo V90CC for the first ace on the par three 16th.

2017-04-26

The 23rd staging of the Volvo China Open takes place from April 27th-30th at Topwin Golf and Country Club, Beijing. Volvo was the first western brand to engage with golf in China in 1995, and this will be Volvo's 86th tournament on the European Tour. The prize fund is RMB 20 million. The tournament is organized by the China Golf Association with Volvo Car Event Management as co-organizer and promoter, and is co-sanctioned by the European Tour and OneAsia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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