China Open gets new date, bigger purse

The Luxehills International Country Club in the city of Chengdu, Sichuan Province (southwest China).

The Luxehills International Country Club in the city of Chengdu, Sichuan Province (southwest China).

China’s oldest pro tournament has new digs, a new date and a higher prize purse.

The 17th annual Volvo China Open, a co-sanctioned European Tour and OneAsia event, moves to the Luxehills International Country Club in Chengdu on April 21-24. Volvo announced this week that it will up the purse 20 percent to U.S. $3 million.

Traditionally held the week after the Masters, the China Open made travel challenging for players who opted for both tournaments.

Qualifying

Males with handicaps of 3 or less and females with handicaps 1 or less are welcome. Players from countries and regions other than mainland China can participate only at the Hong Kong venue.

(1) HONG KONG SAR: Discovery Bay Golf Club, Feb. 15-16

(2) SOUTHERN CHINA: Lion Lake Country Club, March 15-16

(3) MID CHINA: Lake Hill Golf Club (Haining), March 22-23

(4) NORTHERN CHINA: Binhai Lake International Golf Club, Tianjin, March 31-April 1

Per Ericsson, president of Volvo Event Management – Golf, said: “Having secured a crucial week in the golf calendar and with a more relaxed traveling schedule for the top players coming from the season’s first major, I am confident that another vital step has been taken towards the long-term success of the Volvo China Open.”

The country’s top golfer also has reason to cheer the new venue. Wen-chong Liang won the 2010 Luxehills Chengdu Open at the same course. “Ever since I turned professional in 1999, I have dreamed of following in the footsteps of my friend, mentor and countryman Zhang Lian-wei by winning my national open golf championship,” Liang said.

At the 2010 China Open, Y.E. Yang triumphed over Rhys Davies and Stephen Dodd by two shots. Qualifying for the 2011 event gets under way next month with three events on the mainland and an international qualifier in Hong Kong.

Zhang Xiao-ning, vice-president and secretary general of the China Golf Association, said: “With golf in the Olympics in 2016, we envision a huge rise in the popularity of golf in China and feel sure that the move to Luxehills will inspire many youngsters there and throughout China and set them on the path towards enjoying the great game of golf.”

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