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Liang seeks yoga inspiration as British Open quest begins

CHINA'S Liang Wenchong heads into this week's British Open armed with the self-belief that the ancient art of yoga can re-launch his stuttering season at Turnberry, Scotland.

After becoming the first mainland Chinese star to compete and play in all four rounds at the world's oldest major last year, Liang is anxiously looking forward to his second straight Open outing after a difficult run of form.

His best finish on the Asian Tour was tied-seventh at the Maybank Malaysian Open in February but he subsequently missed the cut at the Johnnie Walker Classic and the Indonesia Open and was forced to withdraw from the Ballantine's Championship due to illness.

Liang, China's first Asian Tour No. 1 when he won the Order of Merit in 2007, has since turned to his yoga instructor Wu Zhenwei to help improve his fortunes and he now sees Turnberry as a potential turning point.

"I've discovered the benefits of what yoga can do to my game ever since I started working with Wu. I've learnt how to focus better and the stretching exercises have also helped speed up my recovery process," said Liang, who has been nursing a shoulder injury which he picked up in Japan.?

With the game growing in popularity in his country and being China's sole flag-bearer at Turnberry, Liang knows the pressure will be squarely on him to put China on the world map.

At Royal Birkdale 12 months ago, the tenacious Zhongshan native made the cut for the first time in three major appearances, finishing tied 64th. With the experience gained, the 30-year-old is aiming to better his performance.

"I'm looking forward to a strong showing as I know that it will fuel the growing interest of golf in China and inspire a new generation of golfers back home," said Liang, who earned his Open place after finishing in the top-four at the International Final Qualifying in Asia.

Liang will be part of a strong Asian Tour contingent who will feature in the year's third major. Joining him will be Gaganjeet Bhullar, Mark Brown of New Zealand, Thais Thongchai Jaidee and Prayad Marksaeng and Australian duo Terry Pilkadaris and Tim Stewart.

Rib injury

Bhullar believes he is ready to lead the Indian challenge after reigning Asian Tour No. 1 Jeev Milkha Singh withdrew due to a rib injury.

Singh, who was strongly tipped to spearhead the Asian challenge at Turnberry, was forced to withdraw from the 138th edition of the British Open after failing to shake off the effects of a persistent rib injury.

Bhullar, who is Singh's junior by 17 years, said, "I'm now the lone Indian in the field this week and definitely more expectations will be on me. It's a big shoe to fill but mentally I'm ready."

The 37-year-old Singh, meanwhile, will be replaced in the field by Australian John Senden.


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