Cao the surprise leader in Beijing

Updated: 2011-10-15 07:25

By Chen Xiangfeng (China Daily)

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BEIJING - Cao Yi was unknown to most of his rivals before teeing off at the Fangshan Changyang China Amateur Golf Championship in Beijing.

But the Canada-based youngster should be known now after as he came out as the surprise leader after Friday's first round of play.

"It's my first amateur tournament in China. I have spent most of my time in Canada studying and playing golf," said the 21-year-old, who carded a par-72, one shot ahead of Zhou Tian.

"I was a bit nervous at the start because everything was new to me. Fortunately, I adjusted and played much better golf in the afternoon. Hopefully, I can stay solid in the next two rounds and win the title."

Due to a lack of domestic competitions, Cao should have had not been eligible to play in this tournament, which requires players to have certain domestic ranking points - or at least win a title in an amateur tournament in China.

However, thanks to his overseas experience, one of the sponsors gave him a wild card.

Cao flew to Canada to boost his golf career in 2005 and now, as an older and more mature player, he has his eyes set on qualifying to become a professional next season.

"I will compete in the Chinese professional qualification (events) next year and try to be a pro. China has more and more good golf events every year and I think I will come back home more and play more events in the future."

On the women's side, Ma Andrea Victoria from Phillipines and Wang Ziyi from China share the first round-lead with one-under 71.

The inaugural China Amateur Golf Championship is being promoted as China's highest level and most open amateur competition. It has attracted 85 amateur golfers from home and abroad. Sixty-four locals are slugging it out with their overseas counterparts.