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Search for a Chinese Tiger

By Chen Xiangfeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-04-17 07:47
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The China Amateur Golf Futures Tour (GFT) is in its third season and has taken giant strides on the way to becoming a major platform for China's potential golf stars.

The GFT's first season, in 2009, featured two events in Beijing and Shenzhen. The 2010 tour and this year's season comprise five tournaments and a national final. That number is expected to increase in following years as the Tour becomes more established.

With the increasing number of female participants, this year's GFT for the first time introduced a cut for women's events, making the tour more competitive and entertaining.

As well, 25 amateur players from the GFT have gained professional tour qualification thanks to the experiences of touch competition they gained on the tour over the past two years.

Search for a Chinese Tiger

"We are progressing toward a higher level and a more professionally organized tour," said Wu Wen, deputy secretary of the organizing committee.

"The GFT is an important bridge in setting up systematic golf competitions in China. We hope more and more kids and juniors grow up in GFT, compete in national amateur competitions and then challenge for the pro tours."

Although China hosts elite tournaments like the Volvo China Open, the World Cup and the HSBC Championship, the country is still struggling to develop its own grassroots base and identify promising teenagers.

So far, the best result on the international stage by a Chinese golfer was Liang Wengchong's 2007 Singapore Masters victory. The tournament was co-sanctioned by the Asian and European tours.

But Liang is now 33 and none of the younger generation has risen to a high enough level to follow his footsteps let alone surpass his achievements.

"If we want to have a Chinese Tiger Woods we have to work harder at the grassroots level. The GFT is a very good start," said Zhang Xiaoning, vice-president of the Chinese Golf Association.