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Wu putting for pride and prestige in Zhengzhou

By SHI FUTIAN | China Daily | Updated: 2018-05-17 09:41
Wu Tuxuan is the only homegrown champion on the China Tour this year after winning the Colorful Yunnan Classic last month. CHINA DAILY

Wu Tuxuan couldn't wait to tee off at the Asia Pacific Classic, which opened on Thursday at St Andrews in Zhengzhou.

The $300,000 co-sanctioned Asian Tour event, the fifth stop on the China Tour, is a rare opportunity for the 32-year-old to test himself against international opposition.

"Honestly speaking, when there are only Chinese players, I can never be that serious," said Wu in an exclusive interview with China Daily.

"However, when competing in an international tournament like this one, things are different. It's a matter of national honor.

"On the other hand, given the strength of international players, we could even not qualify if we do not take it seriously."

The likes of American Charlie Saxon, Australian Adam Blyth and South Korea's Todd Baek head up a strong foreign contingent, with 20 countries and regions represented in the field.

Wu holds the honor of being the only homegrown winner on the China Tour this year after topping the leaderboard at last month's Colorful Yunnan Classic, and now is keen for more glory against a tougher field in Henan province.

"It's very different to compete against international players, but it is a very precious experience for domestic golfers," said Wu, who has played most of his professional career in China.

"Not every Chinese player can have a chance to play with international golfers. It's important to compete against and learn from better players from all over the world.

"This week's tournament provides Chinese players with a platform. When I started my career, I did not have too many chances to join international competitions.

"For the younger generations, it's very important for them to grow in the international atmosphere."

Previous champions at St Andrews are now making a name for themselves on the global stage, with world No 49 Li Haotong headlining a list of illustrious ex-winners.

For the likes of Asian Tour regular Xiao Bowen, 28, this week's tournament represents a possible springboard to greater things.

"It will be a great experience playing in such a tournament. It helps me aim at bigger international events," said Xiao, who won last year's co-sanctioned KG S&H CITY Asian Golf Championship.

"The cooperation between the China Tour and other international organizers like the Asian Tour and the European Challenge Tour greatly benefits Chinese golfers."

Unlike Wu, Xiao has had the chance to play abroad on the Asian Tour. He said the biggest challenge for him is adapting to the new environment.

"Playing domestic tournaments is much easier, because I don't have to worry about problems like visas, traffic and food," said Xiao.

"Also the hotels and golf courses abroad can be challenges."

He is obviously a man who relishes a challenge.

"My goal this year is to get into the world's top 200 which will help a lot because I'm eyeing the 2020 Olympics," added Xiao, who is ranked No 463 in the world.

"When golf returned to the Olympics, my family asked me if I could represent China in the Games.

"I said that I did not know, but now, with my victory last year, I'm a step closer to realizing that dream."

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