VETERAN ZHENG AIMS FOR COMEBACK IN GUANGZHOU
Zheng Wengen, one of China’s first professional golfers along with Zhang Lianwei and Cheng Jun, moved into contention after the first round of the Guangzhou Leg on the Omega China Tour today and for the first time revealed how a battle with the bottle hindered much of his career.
Zheng and Shang Lei fired a three-under-par 69s at Dragon Lake Golf Club to lie one stroke behind leader Yuan Hao. Zhang Lianwei, winner of the Qingdao Leg two weeks ago, carded a 71.
In what is the third tournament on this year’s Tour, Tian Ye put his name in the record books after recording the first hole in one on the circuit - which was inaugurated in 2005.
While rising star Yuan used his big hitting game to take the lead in the US$100,000 event, attention focused on veteran Zheng who turned professional in 1994 along with Zhang and Cheng after they competed in the Asian Games.
Unlike his teammates, Zheng was unable to find his feet in the professional ranks and after posting a solid round today he explained that the early part of his career was plagued by heavy drinking and little interest in practicing.
“Some of the players call me a dinosaur but I explained that I am living dinosaur and I am planning on making a comeback,” said the 41 year old.
His best finish on the Tour was second place in Zhuhai last year - when he ended in sixth place on the Omega Order of Merit.
“It will have a very deep meaning for me to win an event on the Omega China Tour. This week I feel I have a good chance as I hit the ball straight off the tee and you need to do that around here,” added Zheng.
Zheng is very much part of the first generation of Chinese professional golfers, perhaps even more so than Zhang and Cheng. In 1989 he was part of a group of young Chinese golfers who were taken on a tour of the United States to learn more about the game. That month long trip included a visit to August National, home of the US Masters.
“I think there was quite a bit of pressure on us back then which is was why I drank a lot. The game was so new to us. Golf has developed so rapidly in China since though early days. There are nearly 300 golf courses in the country now and over 100 players competing each week on this Tour,” said Zheng.
Since Zheng’s introduction to the game waves of new players have continued to emerge on the mainland with Yuan being one of the most promising prospects.
Rated by most of his peers as the biggest hitter on Tour, today he curbed his natural instinct to hit the ball as far as he can and instead focused on course management.
“I am aiming to stick to my game plane, and think my way round. I have played well in the last two events but fallen back over the weekend because of trying to attack too much. I think I stand a big chance if I can stick to my game plan on the third and fourth rounds,” said Yuan.
Tian’s ace on the 17th helped him finish on 71 in what is only his second tournament as a professional. He used a six iron on the 185-yard hole for the second ace of his golfing career. The elation of his master stroke was quickly quashed however when he double bogeyed the 18th.