Retired former world number one badminton star Ye Zhaoying will today embark on an ambitious quest to become the first female player to qualify for the Volvo China Open. Ye played a practice round in preparation for this year's final qualifying event at Hong Hua Golf Club in Beijing yesterday with China's seventh-ranked female golfer, Wang Chun, who also plans to qualify for this month's US$2.2 million national Open. Ye and Wang are two of four female players aiming for the three remaining places on offer to a full field of 100 players, which will be a tall order over the demanding Nick Faldo-designed 7,203-yard course. Hangzhou-born Ye, 35, is used to the limelight having ruled the badminton world along with Indonesia's Susi Susanti and South Korea's Bang Soo-hyun in the second half of the 1990s, a time often referred to as the 'golden era' of women's badminton. Ye became world champion in 1995 at the age of 21, and retained the title in 1997. She reigned supreme at the All England championships with a hat-trick of titles from 1996 to 1998. She also claimed the Hong Kong Open in 1993. Given her wealth of experience and ability to handle the pressure of intense competition, it was a major upset when Ye went out in the quarter finals of the Atlanta Olympic Games, and also a surprise that she won 'only' the bronze in Sydney four years later. Ye retired after the Sydney Games and took up golf in 2002, one year before giving birth to a daughter. 'I needed to take up another sport after I retired from badminton and quickly got hooked on golf,' said Ye, who now lives in Beijing. 'I play at Tian An Golf Club, which is run by former Volvo China Open champion Cheng Jun. 'I practise at Tian An regularly and take lessons from Kel Llewellyn, who also coaches Liang Wenchong,' added Ye, who claims a handicap of three.