Taichi Kho will be aiming to complete a unique double when he lines up in next month’s Volvo China Open.
It was on the first day of October that Hong Kong’s number one struck individual gold at the Hangzhou Asian Games.
It was an inspired performance that he’ll be seeking to replicate when he returns to the world’s most populous country from November 2-5 for the eighth leg of the Asian Tour’s 10-event International Series at Shenzhen’s Hidden Grace Golf Club.
Adding the Volvo China Open title to his Asiad gold would not only secure a momentous China double for Kho, but would also put him in a perfect frame of mind for the following week’s Hong Kong Open over his home course at Hong Kong Golf Club, where he won the World City Championship in March.
Across the border at Hidden Grace Golf Club, formerly known as Genzon Golf Club, Kho will face stiff competition from a high-quality field spearheaded by six of the top-nine from the International Series Order of Merit.
American Andy Ogletree, the runaway leader, is joined by Zimbabwean Kieran Vincent (third), Australian Wade Ormsby (fifth), Thai Gunn Charoenkul (sixth), Australian Kevin Yuan (eighth) and Spaniard Eugenio Chacarra (ninth).
There are also the top four from the Asian Tour Order of Merit with Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines (second), Thai Poom Saksansin (third) and Australian Travis Smyth (fourth) all looking to close the gap on leader Ogletree.
Other notable names in the starting line-up include Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, a former US Open champion, and past Asian Tour Order of Merit winners Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand and Australian Scott Hend.
Look out, too, for a concerted challenge from home players with past, present and future stars from China all vying for glory.
It will be an especially poignant occasion for Zhang Lianwei, a pioneer of the professional game in China. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Zhang’s victory in the ninth edition of the Volvo China Open in 2003.
Meanwhile, the unrelated Zhang Jin will be defending the title he won in 2021, the last occasion the Volvo China Open was staged. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic it was then a standalone event on the China Tour.
There will also be considerable focus on an exciting batch of Chinese amateur golfers led by Ding Wenyi, who is among the favourites for the previous week’s Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at Australia’s Royal Melbourne Golf Club. Ding, currently 19th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, was runner-up at the 2020 Volvo China Open.
Joining him at Hidden Grace will be Qiu Zihang, the reigning China Open Amateur champion who represented his country at last week’s 33rd World Amateur Team Championship for the Eisenhower Trophy in Abu Dhabi.
Also displaying their talent will be the past two winners of the Volvo China Junior Match Play Championship, Shao Minghao (2023) and Kuang Yang (2022).
The Volvo China Open marks a welcome return to China for the Asian Tour, following a four-year absence. The Asian Tour’s last visit there was for the Volvo China Open in 2019.
Among the famous names inscribed on the Volvo China Open trophy are Korean Yang Yong-eun, Asia’s first Major championship winner, and European Ryder Cup players Paul Casey of England and Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts.