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Liang comes of age for Dongfeng Nissan Cup

Liang WenchongSHENZHEN, China, Nov 29 - Liang Wenchong will put aside his personal ambition this week to help Team China take on an Asia-Pacific select side in the second edition of the Dongfeng Nissan Cup at the CTS Golf Club in Shenzhen, China.

Liang is the top-ranked player in the Ryder Cup-style event -- held under the OneAsia umbrella -- and he leads a Chinese team that blends youth with experience against an Asia-Pacific side boasting seven of the players who won the inaugural tournament last year.

The visitors 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.

"I was sorry that day because I didn't win my singles match and it could have been the difference," said Liang, who is paired with teenage sensation Guan Tianlang for the opening match of Friday's fourball round.

"I hope this time to win all my matches, and to start with a victory to inspire the team."

Liang, is OneAsia's most successful player since the tour started in 2009, winning four tournaments and claiming the 2010 Order of Merit  title.

After winning the Thailand Open that year, Liang spent the next two in the golfing doldrums before returning to form with a stunning five-hole sudden-death playoff victory over Korean Major winner Y.E. Yang at OneAsia's Nanshan China Masters last month.

His relief then was obvious, and he credited a newly formed, tight-knit "Team Liang" for taking care of almost every aspect of his life -- leaving him free to concentrate on golf.

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Now his maturity as both a person and a player has been recognised.

Not only is Liang the rock around which Team China is built for the Dongfeng Nissan Cup, he has also been named as a Vice-Captain for the Asia team to take on Europe in the similarily-themed Royal Trophy in Brunei from December 14 - 16.

Liang was also recently named Captain of the country's Olympic golf team as China puts all its weight behind a successful assault on Rio de Janeiro when the sport makes a return to the Games in 2016.

"I don't feel any extra pressure," Liang said. 'I just try to do my best. I know I have done the hard work. I practice and train hard, so if you do this then the rewards will come if you are good enough."

Liang's legacy in China is already assured. His name and image is indelibly associated with a host of golfing products and services in China -- the driving range at the CTS Tycoon Club bears his name --  and he is a hero to the next generation of China's professionals.

But if they think the 34-year-old is ready to step aside as the country's golfing icon, they have another think coming. Liang is fitter now than he has ever been, and has added muscular definition to his lithe frame -- a legacy of hours spent in the gym under the supervision of a personal trainer.

His competitiveness also speaks for itself. When Wu Ashun became the first Chinese golfer to win on the Japan Tour in October, Liang said his effort would only serve to inspire him. A week later Liang finished joint runner-up in Japan -- his best finish in the land of the rising sun -- and the following month returned to the winner's circle in Nanshan.

"I am happy and comfortable with the way things are at the moment," said Liang, "but I will keep trying."
 

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