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Liang aiming to defend his crown

Updated: 2013-10-09 07:46
By China Daily ( China Daily)

Liang aiming to defend his crown

Liang Wenchong in file photo

Liang Wenchong will be looking to get back in the zone when the nation's No 1-ranked golfer opens the defense of his OneAsia's Nanshan China Masters title at Nanshan International Golf Club's Montgomerie Course in Shandong province on Thursday.

Liang grabbed the fourth OneAsia title of his career at the $1 million event a year ago, edging former PGA Major winner Y.E. Yang in a sudden-death playoff that saw them play the 18th hole five times before the winner was decided.

Winless for two years before that, Liang said he found himself "in the zone" down the stretch and the 35-year-old held his nerve en route to notching his 18th pro victory.

"My most vivid memory of last year was that I controlled my emotions before the passionate fans," Liang said. "I know Yang is a very good player, very tough. A stable mind was absolutely necessary for me. I had to be patient and wait for an opportunity.

"I remember clearly thinking that anything could happen. He hit a perfect second shot on the third playoff hole and somehow I managed to get mine even closer to the pin. At that moment I felt nothing was impossible."

In order to repeat the feat Liang will have to overcome a pair of former Major winners in Charl Schwartzel (2011 US Masters) and Darren Clarke (2011 Open Championship), but the Guandong native relishes the challenge.

"I'm definitely looking forward to playing with such great champions - especially if we get the chance to play together in the same flight," he said.

"In my experience of partnering big players like this, the key is their ability to regulate themselves and get the ball up-and-down ... even if they aren't familiar with the course. That is what I will try to do."

Liang has shown great form of late, with five top-10 finishes in his past dozen outings - including a share of third place on the European Tour's Lyoness Open behind Joost Luiten and Thomas Bjorn.

"My systematic training is paying off," said Liang, who rededicated himself to the game two years ago and now appears calm both on and off the course.

"Fitness training and mental improvements are projects that normally take at least a year or longer. I don't just prepare for one tournament, but follow the principle of gradual improvement, step-by-step.

"A lot of thanks are due my support team."

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