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China’s top golfer demands more domestic support

Zhang: Playing for PRC an “ordeal”

Coverage of the BMW Asian Open, a professional golf tournament co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the Asian Tour. A version of this story appeared in the May 1, 2005 edition of the South China Morning Post (subscription only).

by DAN WASHBURN

SHANGHAI — China’s top-ranked golfer Zhang Lian Wei criticized his government and Chinese companies Saturday, delivering an emotional post-round press conference that elicited applause from members of the Chinese media covering the BMW Asian Open at Tomson Golf Club.

Zhang, who turns 40 on Monday, said he has never received any state funding during his historic 11-year career. He added that he has zero domestic sponsors.

“It’s such an ordeal playing golf in China over the years,” Zhang said, his voice cracking at times. “It’s tough, it’s difficult and it’s lonely. I know golf is not an Olympic sport, but I think the sports authorities should at least have shown some kind of support, like air tickets or something, to show their appreciation of my contributions to Chinese golf.”

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05.03.2005, 1:20 PM · Photos, Sports, Stories · Comments (2)

Els to fans: Put your phones on vibrate

Coverage of the BMW Asian Open, a professional golf tournament co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the Asian Tour. A version of this story appeared in the April 30, 2005 edition of the South China Morning Post (subscription only).

by DAN WASHBURN

SHANGHAI — There are, by the most recent count, some 330 million mobile phones in China, so it’s not too surprising that one of them happened to be five feet away from Ernie Els as he lined up a putt Friday during the second round of the BMW Asian Open at Tomson Golf Club in Shanghai.

Els was at hole No. 6 and, already at 13-under for the tournament, enjoying a rather commanding lead. He was putting from 10 feet for his third consecutive birdie, his fifth on the first six holes of the back nine.

And then that darn phone rang.

Els stopped his putt in mid-swing, turned around and smiled at the phone’s owner, a middle-aged Asian woman. Others weren’t so kind. Fans yelled at her in English and Mandarin. She managed to stop the ringing — and then the phone rang again.

“It happens a lot more over here,” said Els, the world No. 3. “It seems like everyone has a camera and everyone has a mobile phone that can also take pictures. Most of the time I take it in stride, but hopefully it doesn’t happen too often over the weekend, because it is a bit of a distraction. You want a bit of quiet over the ball.”

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05.03.2005, 12:20 PM · Photos, Sports, Stories

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Shanghai Diaries is a website about Shanghai, China ... and lots of other stuff. Voted Best Mainland China Blog in the 2004 Asia Blog Awards.

Editor: Dan Washburn

Related: Shanghaiist and Mudan Boutique

Dan is a freelance writer living in Shanghai. More about Dan.

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