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Liang gears up for strong field at China Open

CHINA'S Liang Wenchong will take on European Tour legend Colin Montgomerie and defending champion Damien McGrane at the US$2.2 million China Open, the first event on the new OneAsia Super Series.

The event, co-sanctioned by the European Tour, tees off today at the Beijing CBD International Golf Club.

Liang, 30, is hoping that the draw can inspire him to continue a six-year cycle of local winners and follow Cheng Jun (1997) and Zhang Lianwei (2003) as only the third Chinese to win the China Open since its inaugural edition in 1995.

"Montgomerie is a real star, so it will be great to test myself against him and Damien McGrane. It's every Chinese golfer's dream to win his national open and I'm absolutely desperate to win this event," said Liang, who was China's top finisher in last year's tournament in joint-eighth place and famously finished fourth as an amateur in 1999.

Montgomerie, an eight-time European Tour Order of Merit winner, was equally enthused about the draw, as he seeks to add to past victories in the Macau Open and Hong Kong Open.

"It's a pretty exciting way to start the week, as I'm sure there will be some large galleries supporting Liang. I know he was Asia's No. 1 in 2007, so he's obviously an accomplished player," said the 45-year-old Scot, Europe's 2010 Ryder Cup captain.

Ireland's McGrane won last year's event by a staggering nine strokes.

Liang is the top-ranked of the 36-strong Chinese contingent, with compatriots ranging from 43-year-old Zhang, the only player to have competed in all 15 editions of the event, to 15-year-old Liu Yuxiang, the tournament's youngest player.

Aside from Liang and Zhang, top Chinese pros include Alex Wu Ashun, who finished joint runner-up in March's Dell Championship on the Omega China Tour following two top-10s on the Asian Tour, and Li Chao, an eight-time winner on the Omega China Tour and two-time Omega Order of Merit winner.

"It's my dream to win the China Open," said Wu, 23, competing in the event for the second time. "I would rate winning this above winning a European Tour event abroad."

The tournament marks the first event to be hosted by the controversial OneAsia Tour, a newly-launched Asia-Pacific circuit driven by Australia with China and South Korea in support.


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