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    • Zhang hits PGA TOUR China's first tee shot

    • Lian Wei Zhang hit the ceremonial first tee shot to open PGA TOUR China's inaugural event.Lian Wei Zhang hit the ceremonial first tee shot to open PGA TOUR China's inaugural event.

    HAIKOU, China -- Playing in the first grouping at the Mission Hills Haikou Open, Lian Wei Zhang, one of China’s earliest truly successful professional golfers, hit the first shot on the China Tour – PGA TOUR China Series on Thursday morning as the new Tour began its inaugural season at Mission Hills Golf Club’s Sandbelt Trails Course.

    Zhang, 49, who has won 17 international titles—including three on the Asian Tour and one on the European Tour, played with Australia’s David Lutterus and China’s Cao Yi. Zhang’s opening drive measured 262 meters.

    Following completion of Zhang’s first hole, officials collected his ball that will forever be a part of Tour history. Zhang, Lutterus and Yi also donated to the PGA TOUR China Series balls and gloves from their rounds. Zhang shot a 1-under 71, Lutterus, the first Qualifying Tournament medalist, came in with a 1-over 73 and Yi fired a 75.

    “I was so excited when I stood on the first tee, and I hit the first ball very well. I am happy about that,” Zhang said. “It is a very important moment.”

    “It was a real honor to be in the first group. There was definitely a buzz around the first tee,” said Lutterus. “It was obviously pretty early to be waking up, but it was pretty cool. Very special.”

    Prior to Zhang’s first-tee drive at 6:45 a.m., dignitaries from numerous organizations instrumental in the formation of the PGA TOUR China Series and this event hit ceremonial tee shots off the Sandbelt Trails’ No. 1 tee. They included Paul Johnson, Senior Vice President of the PGA TOUR, Iain Roberts of the Mission Hills Group, Sun Liping of the China Olympic Sports Industry and Zheng Pang of the China Golf Association. 

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