Dongguan, China: Shih Chun-yu will be the player to beat when the Faldo Series China Championship tees-off at Mission Hills Golf Club on Wednesday.
The Chinese Taipei teenager is returning to the scene of his runaway success last year in a bid to once more qualify for the Asia Grand Final, to be hosted by Sir Nick Faldo at Mission Hills next March.
Making his first tournament appearance outside his home country, Shih surprised himself and his opponents as he swept to an eight-stroke triumph last year, one of the season’s most comprehensive victories.
Extended from 36 holes to 54 holes this year, the event over the Annika (Sorenstam) Course at Mission Hills’ Dongguan site has attracted a field of 105 players, representing no fewer than 10 nationalities.
As well as 69 players from mainland China, there are representatives from Belgium, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Six-time Major championship winner Faldo, Britain’s most successful golfer, said: “Discovering and nurturing talented young players from around the world is among the aims of the Faldo Series.
“For that reason, it’s immensely encouraging to see players of so many nationalities lining up in the Faldo Series China Championship.
“It’s also pleasing that the standard of play in general continues to improve, and especially among the mainland Chinese contingent. I’ll be following closely the scores from Mission Hills this week.”
There will be a total of four age group divisions, two for boys and two for girls. The overall winner in both boys and girls categories along with the top three players in each division will receive invitations to play in Faldo Series Asia Grand Final 2015.
Results from the Faldo Series China Championship, the fourth leg of the 2014-15 season, will be entered into the World Amateur Golf Ranking system and the China Golf Association Junior Ranking system.
Supported by The R&A, ISPS and Mission Hills and endorsed by the Asian Tour and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, the 2014-15 Faldo Series Asia campaign will stretch over 11 months and be made up of a minimum of 20 championships.