Beijing, China: Under the guidance of former world number one Feng Shanshan, the rising stars of the China LPGA Tour will have their mettle tested when they tee-off in the inaugural Sina Cup.
With the backing of Sina.com, the two-day Ryder Cup-style event sees the Feng Shanshan Team, comprising six female pros and seven male amateurs, take on the Liang Wenchong Team, made up of six male pros and seven female amateurs.
With the (Beijing) Shadow Creek Golf Club serving as the battleground, the two non-playing captains will guide their charges through two sessions today (six fourballs in the morning and six foursomes in the afternoon), followed by 12 singles matches tomorrow.
Each captain must field six pros and six amateurs per session. In the first and second sessions, each team will feature one pro and one amateur. For the final session, the singles, the same sex players compete against each other.
Feng, who has won 22 times since turning pro in 2007, is making her debut as a captain. Along with vice-captains Michael Dickie and Li Jiayun she is leading a team that includes Zhang Weiwei, the reigning CLPGA Tour Order of Merit champion, teenage sensation Yin Ruoning, a three-time winner on the CLPGA Tour this year, and Liu Yan, Du Mohan, Zhang Yunjie and Zhang Jienalin.
The male amateurs are Wu Suowei, Yu Yanhao, Peng Bo, Tang Junyi, Chen Peicheng, Zhou Ziqin and Ding Wenyi.
“Preparing for an event as a player I have always started with myself. As a captain, I need to plan as a whole and ensure my players play to the best of their ability,” said Feng, during a practice session at the par-71 Nicklaus Design layout.
“For the fourball matches, I would pair an aggressive player with a steady player. If some players knew each other and were comfortable out there and recommended that they play together I would take that into consideration. So far, there are one or two teams like that.”
Of the foursome matches, Feng said she was still getting familiar with the male amateurs and their strengths and deciding which female pros, all of whom she has played with at CLPGA Tour events, she could pair them with.
“I believe that our winning percentage is 60 to 70 per cent. But I don’t want to put pressure on my players. I want them to play freely and enjoy themselves. It’s all about learning and improving. I would feel great if they played to their standards.”
Fellow Guangdong native Liang, one of the early pioneers of China golf along with Zhang Lianwei and Cheng Jun, is overseeing a team that includes Liu Yanwei, Zhang Huilin, Xiao Bowen, Chao Haimeng, Zhuang Zhu and Fan Shiyu. Liu is an Asian Tour regular, while the other male pros have all won events in China.
The female amateurs are Cao Yijing, Lu Yuwen, Li Jieni, Deng Jingfan, Lu Jingwen, Yin Xiaowen and Fan Shuang Shuang.
A veteran of team events such as the World Cup, Alfred Dunhill Cup, Dynasty Cup and Royal Trophy, Liang Wenchong called the Sina Cup a ‘good platform for Chinese players’ to help in their development.
“The Shanshan Team is very strong. Since the CLPGA Tour returned from lockdown, three events have already been in the books. All the ladies in her team are good players. They have already shot some low scores and have some high finishes. We have to work on a plan carefully to have a good competition against them,” he said.
“For myself, I must encourage our male players. Most of them (five out of the six players) haven’t played any events this year. Hopefully, this first event can motivate them to play well and earn points for the team.”