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 Liang tees off golf's week-long march across China, Poulter

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Registration date : 2011-09-14

PostSubject: Liang tees off golf's week-long march across China, Poulter    Tue 11 Oct 2011 - 5:27


One hundred years to the day since Dr Sun Yat-sen founded modern China, Chinese number one Liang Wen-chong teed off the seven-day, seven-city Shui On Land China Golf Challenge, the sport's most innovative competition in the world's most populous nation.
Englishman Ian Poulter led the 18-hole tournament at one-under after the first day's two holes, putting him one ahead of Liang. World number two Lee Westwood was one-over, while world number three Rory McIlroy was four-over after finding water on both holes.
The day held particular significance for the 33-year-old Liang, who is the sole Chinese player during this week's Shui On Land China Golf Challenge and grew up and learnt his golf in Zhongshan, home of Dr Sun.
"This is a very important day for Chinese people, as history changed 100 years ago. I'm also proud because my hometown is the same as Dr Sun's. He' s very famous in China and in Zhongshan, which many people visit as we have a university and a park in honour of him," said Liang, whose supporters at Tomson included Chinese pros Hu Mu and Han Ren.
"I learnt and still play my golf at Chung Shan Hot Spring, which was the country's first golf club when it opened in 1984. With the economic boom in China over the years, we've also seen the development of golf grow rapidly across the country, so I'm very lucky to be the ambassador for China in an event like the Shui On Land China Golf Challenge."
Liang believes the week-long tournament, which is being filmed by IMG Media and showcased on Golfing World, will show China and its young but growing golf industry in a fresh new light.
"I'm really excited because it's a completely new format, not a normal tournament. In China, many people only watch tournaments, but the Shui On Land China Golf Challenge and the TV programme will show people the lifestyle of golfers and showcase China's many modern cities. It will help the audience get close to the players and increase their interest," he said.
"It's great to have these three famous international players, Lee, Ian and Rory, as they will help showcase Chinese culture and promote golf in China to the rest of the world. The seven cities this week are spread from north to south, east and west, and the programme will be broadcast worldwide, so I hope it will provide a good image of China."
The energetic Poulter, who won this year's World Match Play Championship, was the best performer at Tomson, opening with a birdie after hitting his approach at the 461-yard opening hole to within five feet of the flag. The 35-year-old then played an excellent up-and-down to save par at the 590-yard, par-five and finish the day top of the leaderboard.
"That was a perfect beginning. It was nice to get off to a good start with a birdie at the first hole and it's always nice to be in the lead. Whether there's four players or 150 players, I'd like to win," Cobra S2 Offset Fairway WoodPoulter said.
"It's going to be a long week, especially looking at the number of flights and the mileage we're going to cover. The format of the event will make it difficult to get into a rhythm for each set of holes, but it's interesting and challenging."
Liang recorded two pars to stay ahead of Westwood, who bogeyed the first after hitting long with his approach, and an error-strewn McIlroy, who was four-over after a triple-bogey at the first where his second shot from within the trees hit a branch and rolled into the lake in front of the green.
"I'm only five behind," McIlroy said. "A lot can happen in 16 holes, especially in six days. If I can get a couple of birdies on Tuesday and get a bit of momentum, then hopefully I can catch up later in the week."
On Tuesday morning, the players fly on Bombardier jets to Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province, where they will play the third and fourth holes of the tournament at Jinsha Lake Golf Club.
The players will then compete at two golf clubs in Beijing on Wednesday before stops in Dalian, Chongqing, Dongguan and Macau.
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Liang tees off golf's week-long march across China, Poulter
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