Tour News

Perth clash limits Australians in Korea

(Photo: OneAsia)
CHEONAN, Korea, Oct 17 - Chinese wonder boy Andy Zhang, who earlier this year became the youngest golfer ever to play in the U.S. Open, makes his debut in a professional tournament in Asia this week when he tees it up in OneAsia's Kolon Korea Open.

Zhang is still an amateur and only turns 15 in December, but he captured headlines around the globe in June when he took his place alongside the world's best professionals at the Olympic Club in San Francisco for the 112th edition of what is considered the toughest Major.

Zhang, who now lives in Florida and attends an online school while training at golf coach David Leadbetter's academy, shot a credible nine-over par 79 in the first round -- the same score as U.S. Masters champion Bubba Watson and just three more than multiple Major winner Phil Mickelson.

He missed the cut following a second-round 78, but having recovered after nervous starts in both rounds he proved he was not completely out of his depth.

"It was a crazy time," Zhang said of the experience, admitting it was difficult to come down to earth after that.

"I had my ups and downs. For at least two or three months I played tournaments and the results weren't as good as I would have liked.

"Then, about two months ago, I went to the European Masters and although I didn't make the cut, I felt my game was definitely coming back."

Zhang first started playing as a six-year-old in Beijing when he was spotted by a Korean coach who thought the youngster was a natural talent and took him under his wing.

His parents took him to the United States at 10-years-old to take part in an age-group competition, but when Zhang walked away with the honours they decided to enrol him with Leadbetter, who has described the youngster as one of the best prospects he has ever seen.

Very few Australians are playing this week. The clash with the Perth International has meant most of the Australaisans who played last week in China are in Perth for the $2 million event there. The lack of high ranked players from the European Tour in Perth has provided starts for many Australians who might otherwise struggle to get a start in an event of that type and the One Asia event is therefore essentially a Korean / Asian event.

That the West Australian Open and the Perth International have clashed with OneAsia events is very disappointing given the difficulty in offering Australians sufficient playing opportunities.

Bruce Young
About The Author : Bruce Young

A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of and background in the game of golf comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.

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