Sports / Golf

Renowned golfer touts benefits of Chinese tournament

By Sun Xiaochen ( Updated: 2014-07-03 19:18

Feng Shanshan, China's top female golfer, expects the elite local women's tournament to pave the way for China's younger generation to shine on the professional stage.

Feng, the current world No 9 female golfer and the first Chinese to win a major LPGA event, took time out from a busy tour schedule to attend the launch of the 2014 Reignwood LPGA Classic in Beijing and shared her thoughts about the country's up-and-coming young golfers.

"I believe such local tournaments like the Reignwood Classic will help China's amateur junior players get used to the higher level of competition and the professional exposure. The early big-event experience will get them ready to join the pro tour in the future," Feng told China Daily after the launch on July 3.

As the pre-eminent women's golf tournament held in Asia, the 2014 Reignwood Classic, which will be held at the Pine Valley Golf Club in Beijing from Oct 2 to 5, boasts an increased purse of $2.1 million, the largest in Asia.

The tournament will see 81 leading international players, comprising 62 LPGA stars, 15 Chinese players and four sponsor exemptions, compete in the 72-hole no-cut tournament on the club's Nicklaus Course.

As the reigning champion of the tournament, Feng enjoyed overwhelming support from the home crowd last year and expects another successful campaign in October despite the pressure of defending her title.

"Last year, I set my goal to win at least two LPGA championships and I did in Beijing, so I am looking forward to doing it again this year.

"Honestly, playing in front of such a huge home crowd will put me under extra pressure. But this tournament is important for me as I rarely have the chance to play such a high-level tournament on my home soil," the 24-year-old Guangdong native said.

Feng has enjoyed consistent form this year, claiming six top-10 finishes on the tour and a second place in the World Ladies Championship (team event) earlier in Hainan province, but despite coming close on several occasions, is yet to register a win this year.

"I set the goal to win three championships this year, and I believe I still have a chance to realize it this year," Feng said.

Entering its second year, the Reignwood tournament has helped bridge China's promising youngsters to the world's elites and will be expected to promote the game to a large audience, organizers said.

"The tournament is already one of China's leading events. We look forward to seeing it establish itself as one of the leading sporting events in China and one that plays important roles in the development of China's future stars," said Zhang Xiaoning, vice-president and secretary-general of the Chinese Golf Association.

The 2014 tournament will feature a new initiative: Each year, a pine sapling will be planted at the club in honor of the previous tournament's winner, with the first tree to be named after Feng.

"The Reignwood Group strongly believes in the benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle and respecting our natural surroundings," said Galba Zheng, Reignwood Pine Valley president.

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