Home favourite Zhang Hui-lin returns to the Hainan Open with a point to prove after admitting he has ‘unfinished business’ at the European Challenge Tour event.
The 28 year old from Hunan province teed it up at last year’s tournament as the defending champion having shot a five under par final round of 67 to climb up the leaderboard and claim the 2015 Hainan Open title on the China Tour.
Zhang didn’t fare as well in last season’s event, the first Hainan Open on the Challenge Tour, following up an opening round of 75 with a 69 to finish in a share of 39th after the tournament at Sanya Luhuitou Golf Club was reduced to 36 holes.
After winning a second China Tour title at the Buick Open at the end of last season, Zhang returns to Sanya with renewed confidence – and he is determined to be challenging for the title again this term.
“Last year was a very rare occasion in my career,” he said. “It was my first two-round tournament and it was a very weird situation – I believe it was an unfinished job as a defending champion.
“I don’t like playing in wet conditions as you are always busy on a rainy day – hopefully good weather awaits us this week. I will make all efforts to have a better finish this week after last year.
“I have played Luihuitou a few times and I feel comfortable here. You have to be wary of the wind from the sea as it can be really tricky when the wind is up – but likewise you can have some low scores here on a calm day.
“The ninth hole is a really difficult one. For me it is a long par four, especially against the wind, and I am not a long hitter so I can’t get close to the green with a three-wood in hand – while some long-hitters can reach it with a four iron or a hybrid.
“The tee shot is not difficult, but the approach shot is a great challenge with some hazards around the green – but I am excited for the challenges this course possesses this week.”
Zhang, who has spent most of his career on the China Tour, is keen to follow in the footsteps of his compatriots on the European Tour and the PGA Tour – and knows he has a big chance to make that first step this week.
“A win this week would definitely open many doors for me,” he said. “I won’t miss such a great chance.
“Watching Li Haotong and Wu Ashun playing well on the European Tour, as well as the fact that Zhang Xinjun and Marty Dou began their PGA Tour careers last week, I believe that I could do it one day because we played shoulder-to-shoulder on the China Tour for a long time.
“We are not far away from those days – hopefully I can prove that this week.”