Big Asian cov­er­age of NZPGA

Central Otago Mirror - - SPORT - By GRANT BRYANT

Ar­row­town’s NZPGA is gen­er­at­ing huge press in China, which will be rep­re­sented by four play­ers as well as top Ja­panese, Korean, Filipino and Viet­namese golfers this year. Early cov­er­age from English lan­guage mass cir­cu­la­tion news­pa­per the China Daily and lead­ing in­ter­net site sina.com, which have a com­bined daily read­er­ship of about a mil­lion, has en­sured the tour­na­ment has reached China’s large English speak­ing pop­u­la­tion. How­ever, writ­ers trav­el­ling to Ar­row­town to cover the tour­na­ment from the Travel Chan­nel, Sina’s Golf Chan­nel, Cool High Golf, Avi­a­tion To­day and Golf Va­ca­tion and Life­style will en­sure the tour­na­ment ac­tion will reach a po­ten­tial read­er­ship of tens of mil­lions. Af­ter rip­ping through the early stages of the tour­na­ment, but fin­ish­ing in 25th place last year, 25-year-old Zhang Xin­jun will be joined by com­pa­tri­ots Kevin Huang Wenyi, Henry Han Ren and 17-year-old Li Hao­tong at the PGA Tour of Aus­trala­sia event. Toshi­nori Muto, who won his fifth Ja­pan Golf Tour ti­tle at last year’s Kan­sai Open, Kang Kyung-nam, third on last year’s Korean tour money list, An­gelo Que of the Philip­pines, a three- time Asian tour win­ner, and Michael Tran of Viet­nam are among other Asian golfers signed up for the event, which in only its sec­ond year at The Hills is fast gain­ing mo­men­tum. In his rookie sea­son in 2011, Zhang fin­ished 13th at the WGCHSBC Cham­pi­ons and teamed up with Liang Wen­chong in the World Cup, then last year fol­lowed his Queen­stown de­but with two wins on the China PGA cham­pi­onship tour. ‘‘I really en­joyed my­self in Queen­stown,’’ Zhang said. He trains with Huang and Li in the China na­tional team. ‘‘The Hills is the most beau­ti­ful course I’ve played on, so I know the other play­ers from China and around Asia will really en­joy com­pet­ing there this year. It’s truly stun­ning, like a post­card.’’ The pro-am for­mat was ‘‘really in­ter­est­ing’’ for Zhang be­cause he was able to meet fa­mous sports­men and busi­ness­men, as well as Hol­ly­wood ac­tor Don Chea­dle and New Zealand Prime Min­is­ter John Key, he said. ‘‘It will be fun go­ing back there with my team-mates.’’ Aus­tralian Bren­dan Jones, third in last year’s Ja­pan Golf Tour money list and a 12-time win­ner in Ja­pan, is the high­est-ranked player in the field, while Michael Hendry of New Zealand will de­fend his ti­tle af­ter be­com­ing the first win­ner un­der the new celebrity pro-am for­mat. As well as at­tract­ing top pro golfers from across the Asi­aPa­cific re­gion, over 30 in­ter­na­tional busi­ness­peo­ple will be par­tic­i­pat­ing as ama­teur play­ers in the event, in­clud­ing lead­ing busi­ness­men from Ja­pan, Korea and In­done­sia.

Photo: MICHAEL THOMAS

Back to play: China’s Zhang Xin­jun rips through the early stages of the NZ PGA Cham­pi­onship at The Hills last year. He will be joined by a four other top Chi­nese golfers, a large con­tin­gent of other Asian

play­ers, press and busi­ness­men on The Hills next week.

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