Liang's performance previews future success

By Yang Xinwei (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-08-18 09:38
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Liang Wenchong missed a golden chance to make Chinese golf history at the weekend at the year's final major, the PGA Championship.

After setting a course record by hitting a sizzling eight-under 64 on Saturday at the Whistling Straits course, Liang was in contention to become the first golfer from China to win a major championship, but the Chinese No 1 shot a final round one-over 73 and finished in a tie for eighth, three shots behind winner Martin Kaymer of Germany.

Liang's performance previews future success

He failed to emulate South Korean Yang Yong-eun, who became Asia's first man to win a major title by claiming last year's PGA Championship, but his performance and, in particular his third-round play, as Liang said, was special as "it makes people realize there are actually professional golfers in China".

While Liang's camp must have been be celebrating his feat in the US, his performance at home was overshadowed by national mourning for the 1,248 people who died in a mudslide in western China.

Liang, from Zhongshan of Guangdong province, showed winning the 2007 Asian Order of Merit was no fluke and that he can compete with the game's top players.

It was that same year, when he became Asia's No 1 player, that Liang predicted China would soon have a major winner.

I believe the rapid growth of golf in China, spurred by the fast-growing economy, will soon be rewarded on the biggest stage.

Liang's performance previews future success

Not only the country going through a domestic golfing boom and producing a group of fast-improving players, but a solid base for development is being laid with more parents and kids involved in the game.

There are scholarships, driving ranges are mushrooming in big cities, golf courses have increased from the first one on the Chinese mainland in 1984 at Liang's hometown of Zhongshan to more than 500 nationwide at the end of last year, and players are going overseas to play and learn.

I became one of those parents hoping to upgrade golf in China by sending my child to learn the sport.

My best friend bought a set of top-brand TaylorMade clubs for my five-year-old son. I sent him to a kiddies' golf course. My always-want-to-be-the-best son was a latecomer and was reluctant to show his swing after seeing others playing much better than him.

It was only reasonable for him to duck the second HSBC Junior Program summer camp after failing to win a single prize at his first attempt.

He is still too young to understand that, unlike some parents who are banking on their kids to start golf careers, I urged him to pick up golf to learn some etiquette, to socialize with other children and to keep him away from TV and toys.

But, to be frank, I wouldn't mind if he starts to love the game and makes the sport part of his life.

I am not part of China's affluent elite who enthusiastically embrace golf as a lifestyle and way to riches, but I welcome Liang's success and hope it is the basis for future success for him and the country.

I see how far China's golf industry has developed in such a short period of time and now I can't wait to see what will happen over the next 25 years, especially after the sport returns to the Olympic family as this country's sports system is, more or less, Olympic medal oriented.

The author is China Daily's chief sports commentator, who has been following China's sports over the past 26 years. He can be reached at