Zhang Lianwei Joins Global Field at Clearwater Bay Open

Zhang Lianwei, a veteran of 14 successive Hong Kong Opens, will be a star attraction at next week’s Clearwater Bay Open after China’s golfing pioneer accepted an invitation from Ping An Bank, title sponsor of the PGA TOUR China Series.

"I’m very interested to return to Clearwater Bay," said Zhang

HONG KONG, 27 Oct 2016, (HK Golfer News Wire) - The RMB1.2 million event will be held at The Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club from November 3-6 and is the first Ping An Bank China Tour – PGA TOUR China Series to be held outside of mainland China.

Order of Merit leader Dou Zecheng, a four-time winner this year, second-placed Charlie Saxon of the USA and Hong Kong No. 1 Jason Hak Shun-yat are among the headline players previously announced.

Alex Kang of the USA, Kim Tae-woo of South Korea – both winners on this year’s PGA TOUR China Series – and Chinese duo Zhang Xinjun and Chen Zihao are in the top seven on the Order of Merit and will compete in the 120-player field at Clearwater Bay. Zhang Xinjun, 29, finished second and third in the money list in 2014 and 2015.

Josh Geary, New Zealand’s fifth-ranked player, is another player to watch after winning three times in 2015 and finishing second in the Order of Merit to earn status on the Web.com Tour, where the 31-year-old has played most of his golf this year.

Canadians Justin Shin and Eugene Wong, two-time winner David McKenzie of Australia, Chao Haimeng and He Zeyu of China, and Sam Chien of the USA are among former TOUR champions headed for Clearwater Bay.

Long-time Asian Tour player Scott Barr of Australia has also been extended an invitation as the winner of this year’s HKPGA Championship, while Rory Hie, the first Indonesian to earn playing rights on the Asian Tour, also features in a provisional entry list that comprises 13 nationalities from the Americas, Europe, Asia and Oceania.

Zhang Lianwei, however, will be the most recognisable face in the field. After becoming the first player to win the China Amateur Open three times, he set a series of milestones in his pro career including becoming the first Chinese to win a European Tour title – beating Ernie Els in a playoff to win the 2003 Caltex Masters in Singapore – and compete in a major championship, the 2004 Masters Tournament.

Zhang has won five Asian Tour titles including back-to-back Macau Opens in 2001 and 2002 – beating Nick Price in a playoff to win the latter – and further pro events in Canada, Malaysia, Thailand and China.

More recently, Zhang hit the very first tee-shot on the inaugural PGA TOUR China Series in 2014 at the Mission Hills Haikou Open and this year became the first Chinese champion on The European Senior Tour, winning in Wales in June.

Zhang, 51, is looking forward to returning to Clearwater Bay, having played at the Asian Tour’s season-ending Omega PGA Championship in the late 1990s and the 2002 Star Alliance Open when he was grouped with Seve Ballesteros.

“Firstly, I must thank Ping An Bank for inviting me to play in the Clearwater Bay Open. It’s really exciting for me to play on the Ping An Bank China Tour – PGA TOUR China Series after hitting the first shot two years ago,” said Zhang, who this month showed he could still compete with the region’s finest by making the cut in the Asian Tour’s Venetian Macao Open.

“I’m also very interested to return to Clearwater Bay as I’ve played there several times and it’s a really nice course. I’m still playing pretty well and on my day I can still shoot some low rounds, so it will be good for me to test myself against all these young, up-and-coming players from around the world."