Cao, Jin inspired by Li in Order of Merit race
May 08, 2018
By PGA TOUR China staff
- May 08, 2018
- Yi Cao is currently fourth on the PGA TOUR China Series Order of Merit. (Zhuang Liu/PGA TOUR China)
HAIKOU, China — Yi Cao admitted China’s Haotong Li has inspired him.
The Beijing-based 27-year-old continues his bid to qualify for the Web.com Tour at this week’s Haikou Championship, the fourth event of this year’s PGA TOUR Series-China. The top five on the money list at the conclusion of the 14-event Tour will earn status on next year’s Web.com Tour.
Li won the inaugural PGA TOUR Series-China Order of Merit in 2014 to become the first player from China to hold membership on the Web.com Tour, a route followed two years later by current PGA TOUR players Zecheng Dou and Xinjun Zhang.
Cao is currently fourth on the Order of Merit, having won the Chongqing Championship in March. The top-ranked player from China on the Order of Merit has benefited from friendly advice from the high-flying Li, who is competing at the PGA TOUR’s PLAYERS Championship this week in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
“A lot of Chinese players look up to him, including myself. Li has given me a lot of advice over the years, and I think that gives me a little bit of an advantage,” said Cao, who has played in all four seasons of the PGA TOUR Series-China and also competed on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada in 2016 and 2017.
“The level (of play) in China has definitely improved a lot. You can see that a lot of the Chinese players have a chance and are playing in the last group in the final rounds, which you normally wouldn’t see that often. It proves that Chinese players can play,” Cao added.
Cao is among the top local hopes at the Haikou Championship at Sunac Haikou 3KM Golf, where he will play the first two rounds with South Korea’s Todd Baek and Bryden MacPherson of Australia, who both qualified for the Web.com Tour in previous years. Macpherson, the 2015 Player of the Year, is making his 2018 debut.
After securing his first pro title in Chongqing, Cao is excited about his chances here and looks to put himself in position to win once again after missing the cut at last week’s Changsha Championship.
“I really like the course even though a lot of the players say it’s kind of tough and kind of narrow. But I think it’s pretty straightforward,” said Cao, is ¥43,200 behind money list leader Jeffrey Kang. “The course is pretty short, and there are not many holes where you have to hit a driver off the tee. It’s basically like a wedge competition or a putting competition this week, which suits me.”
Haikou-based Daxing Jin, 16th on the Order of Merit, said he has also been inspired by Li’s remarkable achievements, which have included a win at the 2016 Volvo China Open, a third place in last year’s Open Championship, a win at this season’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic that helped him become the first player from China to break into the Official World Golf Ranking’s top 50.
“Li has inspired my will to fight. Li is the benchmark for Chinese golf, and we are all working towards him,” said Jin, who trained and played with Li on the China national team, from 2011 to 2015.
“I am full of hope for the Haikou Championship this week. I have adjusted my mental state and my physical fitness, and I am going to try my best to do well.”
Xuewen Luo is 19th on the Order of Merit, while Changping Chen (20th), Huilin Zhang (25th), Yanwei “William” Liu (26th) and Wenyi “Kevin” Huang (28th) are other Chinese players in the Order of Merit’s top 30 through three events
Since its inception, PGA TOUR Series-China players have received Official World Golf Ranking points for top finishes at official tournaments.
Sunac Haikou 3KM Golf hosts the Haikou Championship. (Zhuang Liu/PGA TOUR China)