A father and son will both compete on the Omega China Tour for the first time when the tournament tees off on Thursday in Xiamen, South China.
Fujian native Wu Weihuang will compete along his 17-year-old son, Jianlong in the one million yuan (146,000 U.S. dollars) Dell Championship.
The 40-year-old Wu, fourth last year, is among the favorites in Xiamen, while his son is a schoolboy amateur competing in a professional event for the first time at the invitation of the host venue, the Orient (Xiamen) Golf and Country Club.
Wu senior, a former martial arts champion, is one of the Tour's most remarkable characters and draws big crowds at any professional golf event in Xiamen .
An expert in Nanquan, a contemporary form of Wushu, he embarked on a successful career in the construction industry then branched into golf in the mid-1990s when business contacts introduced him to the game.
Employing the same steely focus he used on the mat, Wu brought his handicap down to single figures within six months and turned pro in 1999. Competing in every event on the Tour since it started in 2005, Wu has recorded 14 top-10 finishes in 26 events while remaining an active businessman.
"I played well in last year's Dell Championship and finished sixth in the Xiamen Championship a year earlier, so I aim to finish in the top 10 again this week," Wu said. "As for Jianlong, I won't be putting any pressure on him. I know how difficult this game is."
Jianlong has shown remarkable progress in the past year, especially last July and August when he practiced intensely with his father, who introduced him to the game when he was 14.
"I basically went from shooting in the 90s to shooting in the 70s last summer," said Jianlong, who now has a handicap of three.
"I've played at Orient (Xiamen) many times, so I'm pretty relaxed. I just want to experience a professional tournament and see how the pros play, what I can learn. I've already enjoyed being here, practicing on the putting green with the other players."
A student at Xiamen Sports School, Jianlong was formerly a keen basketball player, but since being bitten by the golf bug he has switched his attention to the Royal and Ancient game.
"Since last summer, I realized I want to become a professional golfer, a touring pro," he said. "I'm so passionate about golf and I know it's what I want to do."
His father refuses to put any pressure on the teenager. "If he chooses that path, it's up to him. I won't influence him. I still love the game. To me, playing golf is still like a holiday. I have my businesses but when I play golf, when I pack the bags and travel to play in a tournament, it's still the best feeling."
If Jianlong continues improving at his current rate, it may not be long before he's playing full-time on the Tour, so creating the possibility that one day he could go head to head with his father in a tournament. It's a situation the son has dreamt about.
"In February last year, I had a vivid dream I was playing in a professional tournament with my dad," Jianlong reveals. "However, I was a bit upset about waking up because I never found out who won!"
The Dell Championship, held from March 19-22, is the Omega China Tour's season-opening event.
Favorites include defending champion Li Chao, Asian Tour stars Zhang Lianwei and Alex Wu Ashun, and experienced Chinese Taipei pros Lu Wen-teh and Lin Keng-chi.
(Xinhua News Agency March 18, 2009)