CHINA TOUR EXTENDS INVITES TO HK AND TAIWAN
Hong Kong and Taiwan professionals have been invited to compete in the Shanghai Leg of the Omega China Tour next week as the first step towards expanding the reach of the fast-growing circuit which is currently restricted to players from the mainland.
One of Hong Kong’s most famous golfing sons Yau Sui Ming and Alexander Cheng, along with Taiwan’s Wang Ter-chang and Tsai Chi-huang will take part in the US$100,000 event to be played at Grand Shanghai International Golf and Holiday Resort from August 9 to 12.
“The aim of the Omega China Tour is to promote the development of players in our country and this latest move to invite players from Hong Kong and Taiwan will help us to make our tournaments more challenging and effective,” said Wong Li Wei, Deputy Director General of the Multi-Ball Games Administrative Centre of General Administration of Sport, the body which oversees golf in China.
In particular, Yau and Wang will bring a great deal of experience to the circuit. Yau has played for Hong Kong many times in the World Cup and Dunhill Cup and won the Hong Kong PGA Championship seven times. He is now based on the mainland focusing on coaching.
Impressively, Wang has triumphed on four occasions on the Asian Tour mostly recently in last year’s Brunei Open and in the 2005 Macau Open. Tsai has also won once on the Asian Tour.
In addition to Shanghai, two players from Hong Kong and Taiwan each will also be invited to compete in the season-ending Omega Championship in October in Beijing, which was won last year by Liang Wenchong.
Raymond Roessel of World Sport Group, the promoters of the Tour, added that it was a logical step to invite professionals from Hong Kong and Taiwan to play certain events.
“As the Tour grows, from four events in the first year to eight events in 2007, we are seeing the Chinese players enjoy more success in the bigger events they play in,” said Roessel.
“We saw seven players make the cut in the China Open, I think that is the most ever, and those were new names which have not made an impact before, so we know the players are getting better.
“We are working closely with the China Golf Association and it is their goal to slowly increase the competition and bring new competition in. The easy step was to have some special invitees from Hong Kong and Taiwan,” he added.
Wong said that if the experiment was a success the net would be widened to include up-and-coming players from across Asia.
Next week’s event in Shanghai marks the fifth leg of this year’s Omega China Tour.