Wuhan, China: One of the world’s fastest-growing professional circuits, the China LPGA Tour has celebrated the staging of its 100th event.
Last week’s Orient Masters Wuhan Challenge, won by Thai teenager Saranporn Langkulgasettrin, underlined the depth of talent emerging from the Tour – and its reputation as a platform for developing future global stars.
Among those who have graced the China LPGA Tour are world number six Feng Shanshan and fellow LPGA Tour regulars Jang Ha-na, Kim Hyo-joo and Pornanong Phatlum.
The China circuit has also provided an important learning ground for a host of mainland China players, led by Lin Xiyu, Shu Yuting and Yan Jing.
Thai Narisara Kerdrit, a veteran of 84 China LPGA Tour events who played the first tournament in 2009, said: “It’s definitely a platform. A lot of young Thai players come to China with the goal of improving their games to get to Japan or even the US LPGA Tour.
“My golf is getting better because of the China LPGA Tour. I play the China Tour more than the Thailand Tour. China is my second home right now and I have many friends from different countries.”
This year’s China LPGA Tour boasts 17 events, including the qualifying school. Its 196 members from 13 countries and regions can select from a host of tournaments stretching from Australia to Thailand to Chinese Taipei and around the Chinese mainland. All the events offer Rolex World Ranking points, with several of the tournaments co-sanctioned.
Created to foster the development of Chinese players, the Tour is succeeding in that aim. Chinese players account for 42.3 per cent of the current membership, while mainlanders have won 34 of the tournaments, followed by South Korea with 22 wins and Thailand with 21.
US LPGA Tour regular Lin Xiyu holds the record for most China LPGA Tour wins with six, while Liu Wenbo became the youngest winner at 16 years, two months and 11 days when she captured the Zhangjiagang Shuangshan Challenge in April. Altogether, six events have been won by amateurs.