Former champion Li Haotong will be looking to end a disappointing year on a high when he tees up at the 27th Volvo China Open at Genzon Golf Club in Shenzhen on Thursday. A two-time winner on the DP World Tour – formerly the European Tour – 26-year-old Li is the highest-profile player in the 108-strong field for an event that, for the second consecutive year because of the coronavirus pandemic, is sanctioned solely by the China Tour. But if he is to return to winning ways, China’s most popular player will have to do so without the backing of his supporters, with this year’s event being played behind closed doors. “To be frank, everyone knows I didn’t play well this year, and of course there was the pandemic,” said Li, who just three years ago enjoyed the biggest victory of his career at the Dubai Desert Classic. Youth & Experience Set For 2021 Volvo China Open https://t.co/3xPLlHr8EE via @YouTube — Volvo in Golf (@volvoingolf) December 13, 2021 It was his second European Tour win and saw him become the first male Chinese golfer to break into the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking. “I think there are many opportunities I haven’t grasped and if I could turn back the clock, I think I would grasp them better,” he said. “I have many goals but it takes a lot of hard work. I think 2021 was a good transition year and I’ve learned a lot.” As for his chances of winning a second Volvo China Open, he added: “I think Shenzhen is a blessed place for me as I almost won the first European Tour event here in 2015. I like the course very much, so I’m grateful for the opportunity to come back here. The target is to play well and strive to improve my ranking in 2022.” Li is one of three former champions in the field. Current China Tour Money List leader Zhang Huilin will be looking to become the first player to successfully defend the trophy, while for 2003 winner Zhang Lianwei this week marks a remarkable 27th successive Volvo China Open to stretch his record as the only player to compete in every edition since the tournament began in 1995. As well as being the grand finale of the 2021 China Tour season, the Volvo China Open also offers a total tournament prize-fund of RMB 2 million, the largest of the year. In addition, the player who ends the season at the top of the 2020-2021 China Tour prize money ranking list will automatically receive full playing rights for the 2022 DP World Tour, while the tournament winner will also earn six Official World Golf Ranking points. In addition to three experienced former winners, the field also features 14 amateur players, the largest amateur entry in the event’s history. The youngest is 13-year-old Zhou Yanhan from Chongqing, while Wu Dianchao, a 16-year-old from Shantou, qualified by winning the 2021 Volvo Junior Match Play Championship.