image

Venetian Macao Open 2016

by SCMP

Venetian Macao Open 2016

Time it returned to China: talismen Zhang Lianwei and Liang Wenchong chase Macao Open trophy

Mainland’s two most successful players aim to keep trophy in homeland for first time in 14 years

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 September, 2016, 3:15pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 September, 2016, 4:14pm

China’s most decorated golfers, Zhang Lianwei and Liang Wenchong, will lead the challenge next month to bring the US$1.1 million Venetian Macao Open trophy back to their homeland for the first time in 14 years.

A five-time Asian Tour winner, Zhang is the only player from his country to have held the trophy, winning back-to-back in 2001 and 2002.

The 51-year-old has missed the tournament only once in its 17-year history – due to injury.

Making every cut bar one, Zhang broke through for his victory on the European Senior Tour this season, winning in Wales in June.

Rolling the dice: South Africa’s Branden Grace to headline the Venetian Macao Open

“The Venetian Macao Open is an extremely special event to me,” Zhang said.

“Apart from the wonderful memories of winning the tournament, I have seen it grow into one of the best stops on the Asian Tour.

“The field gets stronger year after year and with Scott Hend and Anirban Lahiri back to play, alongside Branden Grace and Darren Clarke, it is gearing up to be another exciting event.

“Hopefully, I will put myself in position for a shot at the title once again.”

Zhang will be joined at the Macau Golf & Country Club from October 13-16 by Liang, the only Chinese golfer to make the top 100 of the Official World Golf Ranking and win the Asian Tour’s order of merit title (2007).

The 38-year-old has played in the last three Macao Opens, and was the top Chinese finisher each time.

“I still have vivid memories of my appearance in 2013 – I remember playing better as the tournament went on and finishing just outside of the top 10.

“The event is an important stop for me given its timing and quality of field. As the season draws to a close, it is always a confidence booster when you do well at a tournament like Macau. It really sets you up for the next year.”

Licking my chops: defending champion Scott Hend confirms tilt at US$1.1 million Macao Open

The two will lead six other countrymen, five of whom are 20-years-old or younger, in attempt to wrestle the title away from defending champion Hend of Australia.

That group is led by Dou Zecheng, 19, who has a world ranking of 179 following four wins on the domestic tour in China, and also includes Cao Yi, She Zihan, Chen Zihao and promising 16-year-old Zhang Junbin.