Haikou, China (July 4): A new venue, an old champion and a 12-year-old prodigy will share centre stage when the 12th Faldo Series China Championship tees-off on Friday.
For the first time since the event was inaugurated, it’s moving from its traditional Mission Hills Dongguan home to Mission Hills’ sprawling complex on Hainan Island, China’s smallest and southernmost Province.
The fourth leg of the 2017-18 Faldo Series Asia season, a full field of 126 will compete in the 54-hole stroke play championship over the award-winning Blackstone Course, a past host to the World Cup of Golf.
As well as having the chance to improve their standing in The R&A’s World Amateur Golf Ranking, further incentive for the mainland players is that results from the Faldo Series China Championship also count towards the China Golf Association (CGA) Junior Ranking System.
Among the favourites will be Liu Ziwei, Faldo Series China Championship winner in 2015. Liu, who turned 19 in April, will be seeking to reproduce the sparkling form of two years ago that saw him finish three shots clear of his closest rivals.
Notable females in the starting line-up include Hong Kong’s Yu Lo-sin, last year’s Mission Hills Junior Series Girls champion, and Ren Yue, first runner-up in the 2016 Mission Hills Jack Nicklaus Junior Championship.
Also expected to contend is 12-year-old Xiong Tianyi, one of China’s brightest golfing prospects. Winner of last year’s Mission Hills Junior Series for boys, Xiong is 10th among juniors in the CGA’s rankings.
Testament to the appeal of the Faldo Series China Championship and the Mission Hills Haikou Resort is that the tournament has attracted entries from nationals of Australia, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, India, Macau, Malaysia, The Netherlands and the United States.
Winners of each age group category will earn an invitation to the 12th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, scheduled to take place at Laguna Lăng Cô in Danang, Vietnam, in March, 2018.
Six-time Major champion Sir Nick Faldo, Britain’s most successful golfer, said: “My thanks to Ken and Tenniel Chu (Chairman and Deputy Chairman of Mission Hills) for their continued support of the Faldo Series Asia and the Faldo Series China Championship – and for all the tremendous work they do to help junior golf development in general.
“For more than 10 years, the Faldo Series Asia has had close ties with Mission Hills and I very much hope that the link between us strengthens in the years ahead.
“Having played the Blackstone Course, I can assure competitors in this week’s championship that they’re in for a treat.”
The 2017-18 Faldo Series Asia season is supported by The R&A and endorsed by the Asian Tour and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation. The International Junior Golf Academy is a partner of the Faldo Series.
As well as two events in China, India and Thailand, championships are being staged in Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chinese-Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.
Recognised as the only global amateur series for boys and girls, the Faldo Series was established in 1996, expanding to Asia in 2006.
Today, 40 Faldo Series tournaments take place in 30-plus countries worldwide, touching more than 7,000 golfers each year. Past champions include Tseng Ya-ni and Rory McIlroy, both multiple Major winners.