The 32 players who will this week compete in the Volvo China Junior Match Play Championship this morning got their second look at the amazing Tom Weiskopf-designed course in the second practice session.


Yesterday’s practice was delayed due to torrential rain that fell for most of the morning. Most golf courses would not have been playable the same day with such a large volume of rain falling, but constructed on a sandy bluff next to the South China Sea, the West Course at The Dunes was playable after lunch.

Most of the players commented on the breathtaking beauty of the golf course, one of two 18-hole championship-standard layouts at The Dunes. Natural vegetation covers many of dunes that line the pristine fairways, and which gives the club its name.

Huge boulders also frame some of the holes, so the views from the first tee to the 18th green are nothing short of spectacular.

Holes eight, 16 and 17 run parallel with the golden sandy beach, but to admire the view and lose concentration on the game will be something none of the 32 elite players will be able to afford.

Top boy’s seed Liang En-qi arrived several days early to practice on the windswept Shenzhou layout.

“My practice rounds have helped me to understand better how to handle the wind on this golf course, and I’m sure it will help me with my performance in the later rounds,” said Guangdong-based Liang.

“My iron play has benefited from my extended practice here, and also from having my coach here to advise me.

“I am thankful for being invited again by Volvo to play in this important tournament. I will try my best to advance through the competition.”

Liu Yi-yi, born in Xi'an on Christmas Day 2000, is the girl’s top seed and is confident of progressing this week.

Since March this year I have been playing in events around the country and have spent a lot of time with coaches, so I am now a little tired and I have not practiced very much,” said Liu.

“I came to this golf club a few years ago so I’m feeling good about coming back to play in such an important event – everything feels familiar to me.

“The difference in the skills of the players this week is very small so I know I have to concentrate hard to win my matches.”

Yesterday also saw the traditional welcome dinner, at the Four Points by Sheraton hotel, one of the two hotels on the property. Players and their parents were able to enjoy local Hainan cuisine as well as traditional Chinese food.

Local dancers treated the guests to cultural dance displays, including one in which bamboo poles were used and which the dancers had to step through the poles while they were being moved. Several of guests were invited to try out the dance, a move that was very popular with the younger players.

The round of 16 matches begin at noon today. Players in the boy’s group all have their eyes set firmly on the first prize, which brings with it the remarkable opportunity to compete in the 2018 Volvo China Open.

Previous winners of this prestigious title include Dou Ze-cheng, now a full time member of the US PGA Tour; Jin Cheng, who by winning the Asian Amateur Championship two years ago qualified for the US Masters at Augusta National last year, and Li Hao-tong, who followed up his victory in the Volvo China Junior Match Play Championship in 2010 by winning the Volvo China Open at Topwin Golf and Country Club in Beijing last year.

Given the above, the stakes here this week are extremely high, and all of the players will have to battle the natural elements – such as strong sea breezes and possible showers, as well as their physical opponents.


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