China's Liang eyes Olympic berth

Tue 02 Feb 2016

China's Liang eyes Olympic berth

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Sentosa, Singapore, February 2: Liang Wen-chong expressed his intentions to represent China at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August after finishing third at the SMBC Singapore Open.
Liang, the only mainland Chinese golfer to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2007, ended his campaign two shots back from the champion Younghan Song of Korea, who defeated World Number One Jordan Spieth of the United States by one-shot.
Liang fought tooth-and-nail during a week where bad weather stopped play numerous times but the result puts him firmly in the race to qualify for the Olympics.
Prior to his Singapore finish, Liang trailed countrymen Wu Ashun and Li Haotong on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) but the latest result pushed him ahead of the duo as he currently sits in 158th position in the world.
He knows he has a fighting chance to stake his claim in the Olympics before the qualifying cut-off on July 11. A total of 16 Asians including 10 Asian Tour members are currently in the running to represent their countries in Rio de Janeiro later this year.
Among the Asian Tour players currently ranked inside the top-60 in the Olympic rankings include Thongchai Jaidee, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Anirban Lahiri, Wu Ashun, Miguel Tabuena, S.S.P. Chawrasia, Angelo Que, Danny Chia, Lin Wen-tang and Siddikur Rahman.
“I missed several makeable birdie opportunities and I’m regretting it now but overall, a 10-under-par score is still very respectable especially on this golf course. I’ve played well at this course on numerous occasions,” said Liang, who finished runner-up here in 2009.
“Although I’ve yet to win here, it’s still a course that suits my game and hopefully I can get the job done the next time. This is a very important year especially with the Olympics coming up and every mainland Chinese player is working hard so that they can make it to Rio de Janeiro and represent China,” he explained.
Liang earned US$63,000 which placed him at the top of the Asian Tour Order of Merit. Young guns Tabuena of the Philippines, who won his National Open last December, and Jeunghun Wang of Korea, a member of Team Asia in the EurAsia Cup, occupy second and third positions on the Merit rankings with earnings of US$45,500 and US$30,900 respectively.
It is still early days in the Order of Merit race but Tabuena and Wang, both still in their early 20s, represent a new breed of Asian Tour stars breaking through the ranks.
Wang, known as one of the best ball strikers in Asia, contributed half a point for Team Asia in their defeat to Team Europe last month and the Korean continued his fine form in Singapore.
“I gained a lot of confidence from EurAsia Cup as I got the chance to play with some of the world’s best players and it showed this week. We have a very strong field again and I’m very satisfied I managed to prove myself. It is a good sign for the rest of the year and I’m looking forward to playing well,” said the 20-year-old.
This week, the Asian Tour travels to Myanmar for the US$750,000 Leopalace21 Myanmar Open. The event, sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour, gets underway on Thursday at the Royal Mingalardon Golf and Country Club.
Asian Tour Order of Merit – Top-20
Pos Player Order of Merit (US$)
1. LIANG Wen-chong   (CHN)  $63,000
2. Miguel TABUENA   (PHI)    $45,500
3. Jeunghun WANG     (KOR)   $30,900
4. Chapchai NIRAT      (THA)   $21,666
4. Brett MUNSON       (USA)   $21,666
6. Masahiro KAWAMURA (JPN) $16,283
6. Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA) $16,283
6. Sam BRAZEL            (AUS)   $16,283
9. Berry HENSON        (USA)   $13,550
9. Richard T. LEE         (CAN)   $13,550
11. Keith HORNE         (RSA)   $11,583
11. Paul PETERSON     (USA)   $11,583
13. Juvic PAGUNSAN   (PHI)    $10,750
14. Niall TURNER        (IRL)        $9,700
14. Himmat RAI          (IND)       $9,700
14. Daisuke KATAOKA (JPN)       $9,700
17. Natipong SRITHONG (THA)  $8,166
17. Carlos PIGEM        (ESP)       $8,166
17. Adilson DA SILVA   (BRA)     $8,166
17. Antonio LASCUNA (PHI)       $8,166
About the Asian Tour
As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include FENIX Golf (Official Apparel Supplier), Fuji Xerox (Official Office Solutions Partner), Hilton Worldwide (Official Hotel Partner), Titleist (Official Web Partner) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). Sentosa, Singapore is the Home of the Asian Tour which also has an office in Kuala Lumpur. Also, visit us at www.asiantour.com, www.facebook.com/asiantourgolf, www.twitter.com/asiantourgolf, www.youtube.com/theasiantour and www.weibo.com/asiantourgolf.