Sports / Golf

China's golf future tees it up for Beijing Challenge

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-05-29 18:14

BEIJING - Two of China's most promising young golfers are in the capital this week as Shi Yuting and Liu Yu are both in the field for the 500,000-yuan Beijing Challenge starting Thursday in preparation for some important upcoming tournaments.

Amateur Shi, a 16-year-old from Beijing, has qualified for next month's US Women's Open at Pinehurst by virtue of finishing second at the China sectional qualifier last week in Nanshan. Fellow Beijinger Liu returns home after leading Duke University to a NCAA women's golf title last Friday. The 18-year-old has now turned pro and is looking for a win this week in preparation for a successful title defence of her Srixon XXIO crown next week in Wuxi.

"I had told my coach (Dan Brooks) that I was leaving Duke and I felt that he was a little bit unhappy, but I made a decision," said Liu who helped the Blue Devils hold off Southern California by two strokes in Tulsa as the famed school captured its sixth NCAA women's golf title.

"My plan is to try to qualify for the US LPGA Tour at the end of the year. I am ready for a pro career, and the time is good."

Speaking at the Beijing Orient Pearl Golf Course Wednesday following her practice round, Liu, a two-time winner on the China LPGA Tour, said she had no regrets about her one year playing college golf in the US - now was the time to see what she could achieve in her pro career.

"The golf course is in perfect condition. The grass is green and exuberant. I like this distance (6,300 yards), and those greens are fast and smooth. Now I am confident and want to see my performance," she said.

"I haven't played here for five years, but this event means a lot to me. At age 13, I passed through Monday qualifier and joined the professional players here in 2009. That is my first experience that left a lasting impression. I played well for first two days and made the cut easily, but collapsed in the final day. I haven't played since then for all kinds of reasons, so I'm looking forward to it."

Shi, who did not play last week in Qingdao, said this week's tournament will mark the start of four weeks of consecutive events in the run-up to Pinehurst and her Major debut.

"Obviously, I was over the moon about the US Women's Open. I didn't expect it. It was beyond my imagination to be on that world-class stage. My fighting spirit has soared since then and I've worked harder and harder for the past week," said the teenager.

"I know it will be an unprecedented challenge for me. The US Women's Open is the hardest test of golf with over 6,600 yards of golf course. I haven't played such a long golf course and I'll be facing great competition from top players all over the world. I need to improve my game on a whole in a very short time."

Shi is well familiar with the Beijing Orient Pearl course as last year she was the co-leader through 36 holes. She closed with a final-round 71 for an equal-fifth finish as Thai Wichanee Meechai blitzed the field with a 9-under 63, a new China LPGA Tour scoring record for low round, to win the tournament by two strokes.

"I wish I could have such an explosive force like her (Wichanee) to shoot a very low score, but I couldn't. I only keep the same game and the same plan," said Shi. "But I have another chance this year and I feel confident. The golf course is great now and the weather is good, too. Let's wait and see."

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