Zhang plans new mainland tour

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 May, 2007, 12:00am

Zhang Lianwei plans to launch a developmental tour in China as a way of giving back to the game.

The 42-year-old Zhang, who will chase a record third victory at the Macau Open this week, said he wanted to create greater playing opportunities for China's leading amateurs and upcoming professionals.

Zhang, a five-time winner on the Asian Tour, has held talks with the China Golf Association and if the pieces fall into place, the circuit will tee off in the latter half of this year with a handful of tournaments.

The ultimate aim, said Zhang, was to host 15 events in a season. 'When I first started out as a player, we didn't have that many events in China. It was very difficult for me. It is now my hope to see more young Chinese players come through the ranks and my idea is to create a tour which will provide playing opportunities for them,' he said.

'I've held discussions with the China Golf Association and they are receptive to the idea. We need to pull it together but I'm confident it will take off. I want to give something back to the game.'

Zhang's initial idea is to have 50 amateurs and young professionals mixing it up on the developmental circuit from which a select few would gain promotion to the main tour in the country, the Omega China Tour. 'I would like to share my experiences of playing abroad with our young players,' said Zhang.

'I feel we need to have more youngsters playing internationally. Our players need to have the knowledge and experience first before they eventually go out to play,' added Zhang.

Only Zhang and his protege, Liang Wenchong, are regular faces on the international fairways.

Zhang was the first Chinese to win a co-sanctioned tournament at the 2003 Singapore Masters, while Liang, who is also competing in this week's Macau Open and is second on the Asian Tour's UBS Order of Merit, won the same event this year.