Zhang and Liang boost Tour
Posing for a group photograph of last year's China Tour winners ahead of today's first round of the 2006 season was one of the few times that the godfather of Chinese golf Zhang Lianwei could not be seen working on his game.
As darkness fell on the Kangle Garden Spa course, Zhang was one of the only players left out on the course, dug into a bunker working with Liang Wenchong on perfecting the technique to get height on balls plugged deep in the sand.
'Neither of us have played here before, so we tried to practise everywhere on the course, even the bunkers,' said the 40-year-old Zhang, who has joined a field of 80 other players for the US$100,000 Hainan Leg.
'We support each other, not only on the golf course, but also with our tournament experience.
'Through practising together we can learn from each other, to gain even more knowledge of the game and off the course as well.'
For Liang, who has been splitting his time between the Japan Tour and the Asian Tour for the past couple of seasons, the novelty of working with China's first winner on the European PGA Tour seems as if it could never wear off.
'I enjoy practising with Zhang,' he said. 'The other players should try to take more chances to practise with Zhang, because we can all learn more from him, especially the experience of how to play international events.'
Having struggled on his own for so long, treading a path that no Chinese pro had trod before him, Zhang, who two years ago became the first Chinese player to tee up in the US Masters, seems more intent on securing his legacy before time eventually takes its toll. In 28-year-old fellow Guangdong native Liang he has his logical successor, but it is his desire to see a wave of Chinese professionals succeeding that has lured Zhang away from his schedule to back the China Tour.
'We should both support our own circuit, especially as it was actually made for us. Since we are professionals, I think we should support each other,' he declared.