Zhang no longer tour loner

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 December, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 December, 2004, 12:00am

Zhang Lianwei revealed he no longer feels 'lonely' on the Asian Tour thanks to several up-and-coming mainlanders who have joined the fray.

Zhang, 39, signed off for the year with a flawless four-under-par 66. It was an improved round from the 73 he recorded on Saturday.

The Chinese number one said it was good news that the country was producing talented players and that he now had the chance to travel with them unlike the 'old days' when he travelled the circuit alone.

'It's great that we are now like teammates eating together and talking with each other on the circuit. It eases some of the loneliness during the season because I used to be the only Chinese pro around.

'Hopefully, a whole new generation of young players will join the Asian Tour and join us. We're now like a team now,' said Zhang.

The two-time Macau Open and 2003 Volvo China Open winner was proud his teammates had done well at the Hong Kong Open, saying Liang Wenchong and Li Chao had made the cut to make it a '100 per cent' record for the mainland.

'We [China] are improving all the time and this is reflected by the fact that the three of us had made the cut. It's good news,' he said.

Zhang was also pleased that he finished his last professional tournament on a high note with a solid round that left him in joint eighth position.

'I played safe golf throughout the round. I didn't go for any risky shots like I did on Saturday when I bogeyed that first hole. I scored four birdies and no bogeys and it was a satisfying round. I am happy,' he said.

Zhang scored birdies on the second, third, seventh and 13th holes, while keeping it bogey free as he finished the tournament on seven-under 273.

'I really wanted to win the Hong Kong Open because Omega has been my sponsor for more than 10 years and they have been good to me.

'I have won two Macau Open titles and one China Open title, but never the Hong Kong Open. Maybe, my day will come,' said Zhang, who picked up US$17,160 in prize money.

'This year, I didn't win any tournaments, but there is always next year and I am hopeful of doing better.'

Liang was pleased to have also finished in the top 20 at Fanling. He finished 15th last week at the Volvo China Open in Shanghai and he was encouraged by his closing 70.

'It has been a fairly good tournament for me. I learned a lot from the top professionals and I intend to come back again here,' the 26-year-old from Zhongshan said.

Li finished joint 60th after a closing 78 put him five over for the tournament.