October 8, 2008: The enigmatic Li Chao refused to build up his slim hopes of retaining his Omega Order of Merit title, which rests on the big-hitting 28-year-old winning this week’s RMB1 million Omega Championship in Beijing.
The season-ending tournament, which boasts the highest prize money on the eight-event Omega China Tour, tees off on Thursday at the Beijing Longxi Hotspring Golf Club in the capital’s Daxing District.
Li, the Tour’s most successful player with eight wins and two Merit titles, lies third in the money list with RMB215,500 and is the only player who can leapfrog leader Liao Guiming, on RMB360,750. Second-placed Zhang Lianwei is not competing in Beijing.
“Let’s face the truth. The fact is I only have a small chance of winning the Omega Championship and that’s the only way I can win the Omega Order of Merit,” admitted the Beijing-born Li.
“We’re playing a long course this week and I’m not too familiar with it, so I’m trying to be realistic about my chances,” he added in reference to the 7,332-yard, Mark Hollinger-designed layout, which opened in March 2007.
Li won March’s Dell Championship in Xiamen before surprisingly missing the cut at April’s Kunming Championship, the only time he has finished outside the top 10 in his 24 appearances on the Omega China Tour. He has finished in the top-five 19 times and only missed one event, at Luxehills last month, in order to compete in the Omega European Masters in Switzerland.