November 14, 2006 – Liang Wenchong is hoping to end his year on a high with victory in this week’s UBS Hong Kong Open.
China’s No.1 player has revealed that the US$2 million showpiece – which tees off on Thursday at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling – will be his final big event of the year.
And he would like nothing better than to give himself an early Christmas present in the form of his first international victory.
“I’m very satisfied with my overall performance in 2006 but, unfortunately, I’m still awaiting my first international win,” he said on Tuesday. “I’ve had a couple of second and third places this year, so I’m very close.”
Liang, who has split his time between the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour this year, revealed he had been troubled by a wrist injury in recent tournaments.
“It was hurting pretty bad in Shanghai last week and I didn’t play well at all but, after some rest, it is a lot better. The UBS Hong Kong Open is going to be my last big event of 2006 and I want to finish on a good note. After this, I’m going to have a rest.”
Liang will face a world class field at Fanling that includes defending champion Colin Montgomerie, Major champions Retief Goosen and Michael Campbell and four-time PGA Tour winner KJ Choi.
And the Chinese star admitted it would take a special effort to land the trophy.
“I’m targeting a top-10 finish this week, which would be an improvement on my previous best in this event, which is 12th. As for winning, well, I know I would have to play very, very well indeed.”
Liang, 28, revealed his ambition to play on the PGA Tour in the United States, but said he wanted to wait until he was fully ready.
“In October, I was ranked No.8 on the Japanese Order of Merit. If you are in the top 25, you can go straight to the second stage of PGA Tour qualifying school, but I feel I should spend another year or two playing in Asia. Only when I think I’m really ready will I go to Q school.
“During the off-season I’m going to keep practising and trying to improve my game. This year I played The International on the PGA Tour – it was a great experience and I hope to get more invites like that next year.”
Liang also paid tribute to Hong Kong tycoon and political heavyweight Henry Fok, who died last month at the age of 83. Fok championed sports development in Hong Kong and China and, in 1984, built the mainland’s first golf course at Zhongshan Hot Spring Resort, where Liang learnt the game.
“I was a young player there in the mid-Nineties,” confirmed Liang. “I never really knew Mr Fok, although I did meet him on the golf course, and when I turned pro I was still representing Zhongshan Hot Spring.
“Mr Fok was a great supporter of sport in China and without his support there is no way I could be doing what I’m doing now. I really appreciate what he has done.”