CGA-AT Strategic Partnership: Zhang blazes the trail

Fri 17 Mar 2017

CGA-AT Strategic Partnership: Zhang blazes the trail

  • SHARE
Sentosa, Singapore, March 17: The milestone announcement between the China Golf Association and Asian Tour in regards to its newly formed strategic partnership today is set to pave the way for China’s emerging golfers to further blossom on the international stage.
Two prominent Chinese golfers stood tall during the the golden years when the Asian Tour co-sanctioned tournaments with the China Golf Association during the 1990s and 2000s, which at its prime saw between four to six tournaments being staged annually in China until 2008, which was the last year the Asian Tour was involved directly with the game in the Middle Kingdom.
Zhang CGA announcement newZhang Lian-wei, now 51, is a player whose name is synonymous with golf in China. As one of the pioneers of the sport, the self-taught Zhang proudlyl holds five Asian Tour victories - 1996 Asian Matchplay, Indonesia; 2001 Macau Open; 2002 Macau Open; 2003 Singapore Masters, 2003 Volvo China Open, the most by any Chinese golfer.
He also finished second on the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2003 and became the first Chinese golfer to break into the world’s top-100 and play at the Masters Tournament in 2004. He was also the first Chinese golfer to win a European Tour co-sanctioned tournament.
Amongst some of Zhang’s finest moments came when he defeated Nick Price in a play-off at the 2002 Macao Open and Ernie Els in the 2003 Singapore Masters but his biggest career thrill was achieved in 2003 when he won his home Open, the Volvo China Open.
In 159 starts on the Asian Tour, Zhang earned US$1.25 million in prize winnings.
Now a Board Member on the Asian Tour and also a regular competitor on the European Seniors Tour where he won in Wales last year, Zhang, who is based in Shenzhen, continues to be involved with the game and continues to give back to golf through his Foundation and junior golf event.
In an interview in 2012, Zhang said: “The Asian Tour helped me grow as a player. It is also nice to see that I have grown along with the Asian Tour. It’s good to see that.
“I have enjoyed my time on the Asian Tour as it allowed me to grow and become a truly international player. Through the Tour, I’ve had the opportunity to play in different countries and experience different cultures across Asia which helped me to develop as a golfer. I’ve won five titles on the Asian Tour and every victory is a memorable one.” - Zhang Lian-wei

Liang, 38, walked closely in Zhang’s footsteps when it came to his golf career. The Zhongshan-based golfer was taken under the wing by Zhang who mentored the younger golfer.
Growing up near the Chungshan Hotspring Golf Club which was China’s first modern-day designed by the legendary Arnold Palmer, Liang was picked from out of hundreds of school students to learn the game.
After slowly establishing himself on the Asian Tour, Liang broke through in a big way by winning the 2007 Singapore Masters and he went on to become China’s first ever Asian Tour Order of Merit champion.Zhang CGA announcement
He followed up with further wins at the 2008 Hero Honda Indian Open and 2013 Resorts World Manila Masters, while also plying his trade in Europe and Japan during his prime years.
Liang, who possesses an unorthodox golf swing, has finished second, fourth and sixth on the Asian Tour Order of Merit and from 153 tournaments, he has earned US$3.48 million in prize money, ranking eighth on the all-time career money list.
After winning the 2007 Order of Merit crown, he said: “The Asian Tour has not only provided Asian players with a platform to perform but also a venue for international players to play. This has helped us improve and also given us the opportunity to grow and become more experienced.
“I have always believed that to succeed in golf, we have to be hard working and to give 100 per cent. This has helped me a lot. The Asian Tour has helped me to grow as a player and I’m sure the Tour will continue to grow and become stronger every day.
“I really want to thank the Asian Tour for giving me the chance to play. I definitely want to progress and play internationally and I will always remember and appreciate what the Asian Tour has done for me,” said Liang.

“When I was young, I aspired to be like Zhang Lian-wei and I hope I can also be a source of inspiration to the younger generation.”
With today’s groundbreaking announcement, the current generation of Chinese golfers only need to look at Zhang and Liang’s past success on the Asian Tour for inspiration as the opportunity to compete in Asian Tour events in China and across the region will provide them with a career launchpad that both the Chinese stars enjoyed.
Ends