Zhang prepares for life after Tour

Wed 19 Jun 2013

Zhang prepares for life after Tour

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Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia, June 19: China golf’s elder statesman Zhang Liang-wei says his playing days on the Asian Tour are becoming far and few in between but the 48-year-old is not prepared to walk away from the game which has made him one of the very first sporting millionaires from his country.
Zhang is teeing up in only his second start of the year at the RM1.2 million (US$400,000) Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters which starts on Thursday and while the competitive juices are still flowing in his veins, he acknowledged it was becoming increasingly difficult to compete against the Tour’s young guns.
Hence, the five-time Asian Tour champion, who is credited with helping the game grow rapidly across China through his exploits on the region’s premier Tour, has switched his focus to a variety of projects.
The one closest to his heart is his drive to push the Chinese government to build more public golf courses, which he believes is one of the keys to getting more young players to take up the game more seriously.
“When I started, there were only a handful of us playing competitive golf and then Liang Wen-chong and Wu Ashun came through over the last 10 years or so. We’ve now got Hu Mu and Ye Jian-feng (who are playing in Selangor this week) coming through now, but there are not enough young players who are out here competing. China needs to be like Thailand, India or Korea who have a lot of top players on the Asian Tour,” said Zhang at the Seri Selangor Golf Club today.
“I’ve been talking to the government about building public golf courses and there are three potential sites. I am keen to push this through as this is the only way to get more young golfers to pick up and learn the game,” he added.
By his estimate, Zhang believes there are some 700 golf courses spread across China but he laments that only a handful are public facilities. “It’s very expensive to play golf at members’ clubs,” he said.
“That is why my aim is to see more public golf courses in China. I’m hopeful that we can start doing a few more public courses,” he said.
Zhang, who is a Board Member on the Asian Tour, is keen to give back to the game through his own foundation. He said that through donations and sponsorship, he has raised funds to provide a golf indoor simulator at his former high school in Shenzhen.
“I hope to fund junior golf, coaches and players through my foundation. We have recently provided a stimulator to my previous school which I hope will encourage the kids to play the game. I hope this is a start of something good,” said Zhang.
With a strong line-up of Asian Tour stars in the field at the Selangor Masters this week, which is headlined by title holder and reigning number one Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand, Zhang hopes to put on a good showing, especially when his early success had seen him win a couple of tournaments in Malaysia during the mid-1990s.
“I’m not playing too much tournament golf these days but when I get a chance, I’m always eager to give it a go. I’m an Asian Tour player and the Tour has helped in growing my career over the years,” said Zhang.
Worldwide Holdings, a 100 per cent subsidiary of PKNS – the development arm of the state of Selangor – will title sponsor the Selangor Masters for the sixth successive year. The state-linked company has an impressive portfolio of businesses which include property development and investment, environmental management services and investment holding in Selangor.
The weekend rounds of the tournament will be telecast live on the Asian Tour’s global platform which reaches over 200 countries and 650 million homes.
About the Asian Tour
In 2013, the Asian Tour will celebrate a momentous milestone with its 10th season. 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 Abacus (Official Apparel Partner), BlackBerry (Official Communications Partner), Canon (Official Imaging Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), Saxo Capital Markets (Official Statistics Partner), Singha Beer (Official Beer), Srixon (Official Ball), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Official Hotels and Resorts) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Also, visit us at www.asiantour.com, www.facebook.com/asiantourgolf, www.twitter.com/asiantourgolf, www.youtube.com/theasiantour and www.weibo.com/asiantourgolf