September 3, 2008: Chengdu’s leading golfers were beaming with pride ahead of the start of the Luxehills Golf Championship, the first Omega China Tour event to be held in earthquake-affected Sichuan, a province traditionally known as a home for giant pandas.
Huang Mingjie, fifth in last year’s Omega Order of Merit, and Yang Taoli, the first female to make the cut on the Tour, will lead the local charge in the RMB800,000 event, which tees off at the Luxehills International Country Club on Thursday.
Huang is looking to win his first Tour victory this week to honour the birth of his first child in late June, but was equally excited about the fact that many of his Tour colleagues were visiting Chengdu for the first time.
“I’m really happy to be playing here in Chengdu, my hometown. I hope all the players and visitors enjoy Sichuan, especially the food,” Huang said at a pre-event press conference adorned by toy panda bears.
“I’ve played the course several times in the past two weeks. There has been some rain which has made the fairways softer, so it’s playing a little longer than usual, but it’s still beautiful,” the 27-year-old added, referring to the lush 7,335-yard Mark Hollinger-designed layout.
Yang is particularly excited about the tournament, which was rescheduled from its original June dates following the May 12 earthquake that damaged her home in Dujiangyan and left her parents and sister’s family living in a tent.