Local stars gunning for Open berth

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 March, 2007, 12:00am

Eight Hong Kong golfers will have local knowledge on their side when they attempt to earn a ticket to the US$2 million Volvo China Open, which stages a qualifying tournament in the SAR for the first time next week.

Leading Hong Kong players James Stewart and David Freeman will be among a 79-strong field at the Discovery Bay Golf Club next Monday and Tuesday attempting to win one of four qualifying berths for the China Open at Silport Golf Club in Shanghai from April 12 to 15.

With organisers unable to schedule a practice round, the Hong Kong contingent will be able to make use of local knowledge during the 36-hole competition.

'Knowing the golf course and how it plays can definitely help and I think the Hong Kong golfers will be at an advantage, especially as we have been unable to fit in a practice round,' said Alistair Polson, executive director of Volvo China Open.

Stewart added: 'I know the Discovery Bay course quite well and I think it will help me. I won the last two Hong Kong PGA tournaments held there and I guess I will be at an advantage. It is great that we are getting this opportunity. I have never played in the Volvo China Open since it became part of the European Tour and I'm looking forward to qualifying.'

This is the first time that a qualifying tournament for the China Open will be played outside the mainland.

Three more qualifying tournaments will be played on the mainland, the first starting at the Harbour Plaza Golf Club in Dongguan today.

'The three tournaments in China will allow nine golfers from the China Golf Association to qualify. The Hong Kong event will boast more of an international field with a large number of players from Taiwan and others from Europe, the United States and Asia taking part,' Polson said.