Wu Ashun has made golfing history for the second time in the space of three weeks by being named the Hilton European Tour Golfer of the Month for April.
It is the first time a golfer from China has been accorded the prestigious accolade and is just reward for the 29 year old’s stunning victory in the Volvo China Open at the Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club, which was the first time a Chinese golfer had triumphed in a European Tour event on home soil.
Two golfers from China – Zhang Lian-wei and Liang Wen-chong – have tasted European Tour success in the past, but none achieved the acclaim that Wu enjoyed from the spectators who thronged the final fairways of a golf course which is only a stone’s throw from where he himself grew up.
Having begun the final day at the Shanghai venue in a four-way tie for the lead, the fourth round proved to be equally tight before Wu’s closing 71 saw him set the clubhouse target of nine under par 279. England’s David Howell had a chance to match that total, but when his par attempt at the 72nd hole stayed above ground, the title was Wu’s.
“I am delighted and very honoured to receive this award and I would like to thank the panel for voting for me,” said Wu, who receives Hilton HHonours Diamond Elite Status, the highest tier of Hilton’s renowned loyalty scheme, in recognition of his achievement.
“To win a European Tour event on home soil was the highlight of my career to date but being named as Golfer of Month has made it extra special. I hope my win can encourage more Chinese children to take up this great game and hopefully go on to become champions themselves in the future.”
Howell, who also finished fourth in the previous week’s Shenzhen International, was one of the other players considered for the April award, alongside the man who took the title at Genzon Golf Club – Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat – and England’s Justin Rose, whose brave bid to win the Masters Tournament came up just short as he finished tied second with Phil Mickelson behind Jordan Spieth at Augusta National.
However, the panel – which met in the Hilton’s Park Lane Hotel in central London and which comprised photographers and journalists from television, radio, newspapers, and magazines – recognised Wu’s historic achievement and voted him the winner with Rose second and Aphibarnrat third.
Panel member Andy Redington of Getty Images, one of golf’s most respected international photographers, said: “Everyone involved in golf loves to see firsts and this was a pretty spectacular first from Wu Ashun, who played really well all week in front of his home fans and held his nerve on a tense final day.
“Whatever country you are from, there is always additional pressure on your shoulders to win your home Open and for Wu to be the first Chinese player to do that on The European Tour will have great historical significance for the game going forward. In many ways it is a seminal moment for Chinese golf.”
Just as with last month, fans of ‘My European Tour’ were also involved in the award, with the new format allowing them to vote at www.europeantour.com and try to match the expert panel’s 1-2-3 from April.
This month’s fans winner, along with each of the other monthly winners from March to September, will earn themselves a two-night stay at any Hilton Portfolio hotel worldwide, while all seven winners will be entered into a prize draw to win an incredible three-night stay in Dubai for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
Wu now joins Danny Willett (December), Gary Stal (January), Anirban Lahiri (February) and Richie Ramsay (March) as contenders for The 2015 European Tour Golfer of the Year, which will be decided by a selection panel at the culmination of the Dubai event.