Six female professionals have entered the qualifying events for the Volvo China Open, the first of which takes place at the Silport Golf Club in Shanghai today. Among the six is Zhang Na, winner of the Wu Yi Championship in January. Zhang also played in the Asian Tour's Crowne Plaza Open in Beijing last week but failed to make the cut after opening rounds of 75 and 79. Also entered is Ye Lining, the first mainland Chinese professional to qualify for the lucrative LPGA Tour. Ye was entered for the opening qualifier starting today, but had to delay her return from California where she has been practising at Oak Valley Country Club. She is now expected to play in the third qualifier at Nansha in two weeks. 'Having six women enter the pre-qualifying events will be a great benchmark of the standard of women's professional golf in mainland China,' said Alistair Polson, executive director of the event. 'It would create a profound impact on women's golf in Asia should one of the six women win through to the China Open proper.' The opportunity for a place in the US$1.3 million tournament (November 24-27) is on offer to eight of the 150 professional and amateur golfers from across China at three different venues over the next three weeks. The top two finishers from today's 18-hole event will win through to the China Open, which will be played at Shenzhen Golf Club, where Welshman Stephen Dodd will be out to defend the title he won last year, also at Silport Golf Club. Prize money of US$11,000 is on offer to the leading four professionals in the three qualifying events, the second of which will be played at Beijing CBD International Golf Club next week, while the final event will be at Nansha Golf Club in Panyu the following week. This is the first time pre-qualifying events have been introduced for the tournament, which this year will celebrate its 11th anniversary. 'We decided to introduce the pre-qualifying events so the event can take the next step to becoming a true open championship,' said Polson 'We want to reach out to golfers from all over China to become part of the spirit of the event, and to have the opportunity to compete in what is actually their national open.'