Top Chinese golfers fail to make pro

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 31 October, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 31 October, 1993, 12:00am

MAINLAND Chinese golfers will have to wait at least six months to cash in on their talent by turning professional.

Competing over the Beijing International Golf Club layout, the country's leading men and women players failed to meet the qualifying standards laid down by the fledgling Professional Golfers' Association of China.

In the first 72-hole strokeplay professional qualifying tournament, twice China Open amateur champion Zhang Lianwei came closest to earning the right to play for cash.

His four-round aggregate of 298 was two shots more than the eight-over-par mark officials set as the target score.

Despite the disappointment, Zhang and his compatriots will be given another chance when a second professional qualifying event is staged at the Zhongshan Hot Spring Golf Club in Guangdong Province next April.

Following the establishment of a PGA earlier this year it was decided to allow five players - three male and two female - to relinquish their amateur status and turn pro.

Had any of the men qualified they would have been given a chance to hit the jackpot in a US$54,000 Johnnie Walker Skins Game at Zhongshan a week from today.

Although Zheng Weinjun will take part in the 'skins' alongside South African great Gary Player, any money he wins will now go to a development fund for young golfers in China.

Zheng and Zhang had also been hoping to compete in the 1994 Asian Tour Qualifying School in the Philippines in February with a view to playing on the nine-leg circuit.

While they will not now be able to try and win their Tour cards as professionals, there is still a possibility they may travel to Manila and try to qualify as amateurs.

Going into the final round in Beijing, current China Open champion Cheng Jun appeared to be the man most likely to win his professional spurs. Six over par after 54 holes he needed a 74 or better on the last day.

But he struggled to a 78 and suffered the ignominy of seeing Zhang overhaul him for first place in the event, which also acted as the 1993 China Closed amateur championship.

Zheng finished third on 301 followed by Beijing-based Guan Xuefeng.

In the women's section, Zhongshan's Lam Shiyu scored a runaway victory, but missed the qualifying target by 15 strokes.

Lam was the only one of the 12 women to shoot all four rounds in the 70s and her total of 311 was nine shots ahead of three-time China Open women's champion Wong Lixia.