Locals to fight Koreans for title at women's Open

Updated: 2011-12-03 08:06

By Wu Ying and Chen Xiangfeng (China Daily)

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BEIJING - Can South Korea's spell over the Hyundai China Ladies Open be broken this year?

The 2011 Open will tee off at the Orient Golf & Country Club from Dec 16 to 18 in Xiamen, Fujian province. As the finale of this year's China LPGA Tour, the tournament will attract 108 of the region's top women golfers and shapes up as another clash between the Korean belles and China's aces.

From the first edition of the tour in 2006, the visiting Korean women golfers have reigned supreme. This year, KLPGA champion Kim Ha-neul, No 2 Sim Hyun-hwa and rising star Jung Yeon-ju will fight hard to extend that streak.

Spearheaded by world No 14 Feng Shanshan, who showed impressive form in LPGA and JLPGA events this year, the star-studded Chinese side is keen to break the spell and finally keep the cup on home soil.

Besides 21-year-old Feng, who grabbed her second JLPGA title in September, other locals are expected to shine. Ye Liying is definitely one of them. Ye, the pioneer golfer who started playing on the world stage many years ago, is also the JLPGA's champion, following compatriots Zhang Na and Feng.

National team leader Li Jiayun will also show up and try to challenge the Koreans. Pan Yanhong, also boasting outstanding performances this year, especially at the Sanya Ladies Open 2011, a stop of the LET (Ladies European Tour), in which she finished third, cannot be underestimated.

Meanwhile, the China Ladies Open is going from strength to strength.

"It not only provides a very good platform where China's women golfers can compete with world-class players and thus improve themselves, but it is also instrumental in preparing for the Olympics," said Zhang Xiaoning, the Chinese Golf Association's chief.

Zhang also revealed China is seeking co-operation with JLPGA after successful ventures with the KLPGA over the past few years.

"We have had some of the world's best players from Korea come to China and play with the Chinese over the past few years. We have benefited a lot as we know Korea is on top in women's golf," said Zhang. "This year, we have invited the chief of the JLPGA to come to China and we will have some talks about future co-operation. Chinese players have had success on the JLPGA tour, one of the world's best women's golf tours. We hope we can take those efforts forward."

China Daily