Oliver Wilson (pic by Richard Castka) ()
With a drive as crisp as the morning air in Foshan City, Oliver Wilson got the inaugural Foshan Open off to a suitably classy start.
The former Ryder Cup player found the middle of the finely manicured fairway at Foshan Golf Club, before going on to make an opening par as he bids to claim his debut Challenge Tour title.
Wilson’s drive was the first competitive shot struck since Foshan Golf Club underwent a major renovation under the guidance of renowned Australian architect Tony Cashmore.
Speaking on the eve of the tournament, Wilson was full of praise for the 7,148 yards, par 72 layout, which will host the US$350,000 event for at least the next three years.
He said: “The organisers and greenkeepers have done a fantastic job in getting the course in such good condition. These greens give you plenty of options for pin positions, so the Tour can go for a pretty tough set-up if they want to. The weather’s set fair and the course is drying out all the time, so we should be in for a great week.”
Wilson was joined in the first group by Australian Daniel Gaunt and Li Hao-tong, one of 57 Chinese players in the field.
The home contingent includes Zhang Xin-jun, who finished joint 13th in the WGC-HSBC Champions two years ago, and Huang Wen-yi, who finished tied seventh at this year’s BMW International Open in Munich.
Italian Andrea Pavan, the leader of the Challenge Tour Rankings, will tee off at 11.50am in the company of Dutchman Daan Huizing, currently third in the Rankings, and China’s Han Ren, who won the ‘Blind Shootout’ nearest the pin competition on Wednesday.