Zhuhai, China: The China LPGA Tour tees-off on a condensed version of its 2020 season today with the first round of the Zhuhai Hollywood Mansion Challenge.
With only the CLPGA Tour Qualifying Tournament completed in January before the suspension of the season due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus, play is resuming in Guangdong Province with the RMB500,000 event at Orient Zhuhai Golf Club – the first of three straight weeks of tournaments.
If all goes well, tentatively the CLPGA Tour plans to stage nine tournaments this year, culminating with the Women’s China Open in December.
With the restrictions on international travel currently in place, in addition to the quarantine rules, this week’s 55-player, no-cut field is purely domestic, including two players from Hong Kong. To protect the playing rights of international players on the CLPGA Tour at future tournaments, and to ensure no one loses their playing card, their status before the outbreak of the virus will be the same when full international fields resume.
Among the notables in the field this week are the top three players from the 2019 CLPGA Tour Order – Zhang Weiwei, Liu Yan and Du Mohan. All have qualified for the US Women’s Open in December in Houston, Texas.
“It’s great that we finally came back,” said Zhang, last year’s Order of Merit winner on the strength of four victories. “It’s about five months since the last event I played in Florida on the Symetra Tour. I came back to China in April and was in quarantine for 14 days. We didn’t know when we could re-start and lost some momentum. But we were excited hearing the possible date when we would play again.”
Zhang is playing at Orient Zhuhai for the fourth time in five years. She won her first pro title here in 2017 and lost to Chinese Taipei’s Babe Liu in a play-off in 2015.
Du is coming off an outstanding rookie season where she captured her first pro title, the Golf Liquor Zhuhai Golden Gulf Challenge, in addition to posting seven more top-10 finishes.
The 18-year-old Beijinger returned to China from the US in June after playing her last tournament, a Symetra Tour event, in March.
“I worked out a lot in the gym for this special period. I can hit the ball five to 10 yards longer now. I feel good entering this week. I believe in my game,” said Du.
“There are less players here because of the international travel bans, which is a little disappointing. On paper, it’s easy to win since you just need to beat half of the normal field. But all of the Chinese great players are here and want to take advantage of it.”