Liang nails down China Open spot

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File photo of Liang Enqi.

Guangdong's Liang Enqi will line up alongside many of the world's best at the Volvo China Open after winning the tournament's amateur qualifying final at Mission Hills Golf Club in Haikou, Hainan province, on Wednesday.

The overnight leader carded a final-round even-par 72 to finish with a 2-under total of 142 for the 36-hole event and win by two strokes over 13-year-old Wu Dianchao (144).

Although Wu led by one stroke with eight holes to play, a superb chip for an eagle three on the 12th gave Liang a two-shot advantage going into the home stretch and the 17-year-old held his nerve to secure a place at the 25th Volvo China Open in Shenzhen, from May 2-5.

"It's a dream come true for me to play in the Volvo China Open", said Liang, whose rounds of 70 and 72 over the Sandbelt Trails Course finally saw him win a qualifying event for China's national open championship on his fourth attempt.

"I was very nervous playing in the final group with players of a similar level, so the eagle on the 12th was the key moment. I definitely relaxed a little after that."

After first appearing in the 2013 Volvo China Junior Match Play Championship, Liang has been trying to qualify for the national open since 2016. With his place now secure, he's already planning ahead for his debut alongside the big guns of the European Tour big.

"I have to thank the Hunan team who have supported me throughout, and my father who will hopefully caddie for me at the China Open," Liang said.

"With that kind of support, I'll try to do my very best. I'll even go to Shenzhen in advance of the tournament to familiarize myself and adapt to the course."

For Wu it was a second straight runner-up spot after narrowly missing out on victory at the junior match play championship in December. But the precocious youngster will have another chance after securing an invite to play in the Volvo China Open domestic qualifying event from March 18-20.

Also guaranteed a place in the domestic qualifier are Pu Xi and Lin Yuxin, who both shot 73 to finish tied for third place at 1-over 145, and Zongzeng Hao Qi who claimed fifth place at 146.

The four will compete for nine tournament places when they tee up alongside male and female Chinese pros over 36 holes at Guangzhou Nansha Golf Club.

Wu briefly led the 60-player amateur qualifying final by one shot after a superb front-nine 35 (-2) that included an eagle three on the eighth. But a bogey on the 11th saw him drop back into a tie with Liang before his rival hit back with his own eagle on No 12, followed by five pars on the final six holes.

"My putting wasn't very good today and overall I don't think my game was good enough for the windy conditions," Wu said after rounds of 71 and 73. "But I have another chance at Nansha and I'll go there looking for a good result."

The amateur qualifying final was the first of three tournaments offering coveted playing spots in the 25th Volvo China Open. Next up is the international qualifying event at Guangzhou Nansha Golf Club from March 13-15.

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