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Aiming high on Hainan's fairways

CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-12-01 09:28
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Zhang Yunxuan will do battle for a piece of the 800,000 yuan ($112,000) prize pool at this week's CGA Ladies Championship at Mission Hills Resort Haikou in Hainan province. CHINA DAILY

Hungry for home glory, China's ambitious young pros primed to light up this week's CGA Ladies Championship

Liu Wenbo is back in China looking to turn around her game in more familiar confines after a disappointing season on the Epson Tour in the United States.

Speaking before the start of Friday's CGA Ladies Championship, a China LPGA Tour event at Mission Hills Resort Haikou on Hainan island, the 22-year-old is coming off a season where she made only one halfway cut in nine events on the Epson Tour, a feeder circuit for the LPGA Tour.

Liu, a three-time winner on the CLPGA circuit, described her American campaign as "chaos".

Liu Wenbo will do battle for a piece of the 800,000 yuan ($112,000) prize pool at this week's CGA Ladies Championship at Mission Hills Resort Haikou in Hainan province. CHINA DAILY

"I worked with more than one coach. I was all ears when they taught and changed something in my swing all the time. Finally, I fell into disorder and struggled on the tour. My miserable money ranking shows how I hit the lowest point in my career," she said.

After losing her card, the Beijinger returned home to work with Scotsman Michael Dickie, a longtime Shanghai-based golf professional, who helped to restore her confidence.

"Michael helped me analyze what I was in urgent need of changing. Obviously, I made progress with some good advice that he gave me. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I had no tournament to prove what I learned from him. That's why I'm here.

"I don't have any goal. I just want to justify that what I did work on is right. I still want to go back to the US next year. I will play in China and improve my world ranking, which could exempt me from the second stage of US LPGA Q-School."

Trending in the opposite direction is Liu's fellow Epson Tour alumni Michelle Zhang Yunxuan.

The Dallas-based Chinese is coming off an excellent rookie campaign where she made 12 of 13 cuts, her best being a tie for third at the Guardian Championship in September. A month later, she finished tied-eighth at the Epson Tour Championship.

"I played decent on the Epson Tour. However, there is some disappointment, such as not being able to win, being close to contention and not being able to finish the job," said Zhang, who turned 19 on Wednesday.

"This is my first CLPGA event, and pretty much my first Chinese professional event. I chose to play because a few of my friends won here in the past. And seeing them being able to win, this was a huge milestone in their career.

"I hope that coming back home can potentially help me achieve a first professional win. Next year I want to finish top-10 on the Epson Tour and get my LPGA card."

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