VETERAN ZHANG AIMS FOR GLORY AT UBS HONG KONG OPEN
Hong Kong: China’s trailblazer Zhang Lian-wei is preparing himself a shot at the UBS Hong Kong Open title next week.
The 45-year-old veteran, widely regarded as the man who put China golf on the world map with his success on the Asian Tour, will come up against the likes of US Open champion Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy in the US$2.5 million event at the Hong Kong Golf Club starting from November 18-21.
Other leading Asian Tour stars in the elite field include Korea’s Noh Seung-yul, India’s Jeev Milkha Singh, Thai superstar Thongchai Jaidee and Zhang’s countryman, Liang Wen-chong.
Zhang has made it known that he craves for victory in the UBS Hong Kong Open, jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour, to complete his collection of Volvo China Open and Macau Open titles.
As he approaches the twilight of his career, the Chinese star knows that time is running out to complete the unique treble.
Zhang has cut down his playing commitments on the Asian Tour, featuring in only five tournaments this year. However, he has shown that he is still very much capable of challenging for titles when he contended in the Brunei Open in August before finishing in a share of 10th place.
A return to the venerable Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling will also boost his confidence as the course requires more guile and accuracy, rather than power which most modern day courses demand.
Last year, the self-taught golfer, who is a five-time winner on the Asian Tour, produced four sub-par rounds at the UBS Hong Kong Open to finish in a creditable tied 36th place. The last time he finished top-10 in Fanling was in 2004 where he came in equal eighth. Zhang also shot a fine 63 in the 2006 edition.
“It’s refreshing to be playing on the Asian Tour because many of the players are my friends. I have been playing on the Asian Tour for so many years now that every time I come back after a long break, it feels really good. I feel comfortable here,” said Zhang in a recent interview.
“I’m quite happy with my form. My ball striking has been solid but I need to improve on my chipping and putting. I didn’t play well last season as I was tweaking my swing and till now, it is still not 100%. It is getting there and I believe my swing will be at its best soon,”
Other big names who will feature in the UBS Hong Kong Open include Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie, Miguel Angel Jiménez, Ian Poulter, John Daly, title holder Grégory Bourdy and Y.E. Yang, Asia’s first Major winner.
Asian Tour GolfGreedy.com