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China golf in good hands, says legend Zhang

Zhang LianweiSHENZHEN, China, Nov 29 - Exposure to international tournaments like OneAsia's Dongfeng Nissan Cup means China's golfing future is in good hands, says Zhang Lianwei, considered the father of professional golf in the world's most populous country.

"The more tournaments our players take part in means the more experience they will get," the evergreen Zhang said on the eve of the second edition of the Ryder Cup-style tournament, which pits Team China against an Asia-Pacific select side.

"This is a very good tournament for our players to learn from and to play against excellent competitors from around the region."

Zhang is the oldest player taking part in this week's tournament at the CTS Tycoon Club in Shenzhen, China, but the 47-year-old showed he still has what it takes with joint 15th place at the Hong Kong Open two weeks ago after going into the weekend tied for second.

A former caddie who won China's amateur title three times, before turning professional in 1994, Zhang triumphed four times on the Asian Tour and once on the European Tour, when he famously beat Ernie Els into second place at the Caltex Singapore Masters in 2003.

The Dongfeng Nissan Cup was first held last year when the Asia-Pacific triumphed 12 1/2 to 11 1/2 on a gripping final day of singles after the teams were level 3 - 3 following the fourball matches and 6 - 6 following the foursomes.