BANGKOK, August 11 - Playing in competitive fields on OneAsia is upping the standards and fuelling the ambition of China's players to compete for their country at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Eight mainland players made the cut in the U.S.$ 1 million Thailand Open at Suwan Golf & Country Club, underscoring the huge strides being made by the Chinese as they seek to make an impact on golf's Olympic return.
"The fact that so many Chinese made the cut this week shows the growing strength of mainland players," said Tournament Director, David Parkin.
"It has always been my belief that if you give players enough chances to grow their game they will get better and better -- and this is exactly what has happened with the Chinese.
"If you give them good facilities and good players to play against, they are going to improve."
The fast-rising Zhang Xinjun, who basked in the international spotlight after finishing 13th in the elite World Golf Championships event in Shanghai last year, echoed Parkin's view.
"Since I have been playing on OneAsia, including the events outside of China, the fields have become stronger and stronger, more competitive," said the 25-year-old Zhang after firing a four-under-par 68 in the third round on Saturday.
"I'm growing up on OneAsia and have learned a lot from other star players from all over the world. This week the best players from OneAsia, Japan, and Europe are competing and that is very helpful for my game's improvement."
Zhang is a member of the Nanshan-based Professional Golf Team China, which was formed last year to prepare players for the Olympic Games in 2016.
He said he was inspired by the performances of Chinese athletes at the London Games and envisioned himself competing for a medal in four years time.
"Before I came to Thailand, I watched the London Olympic Games," said Zhang, who was 40th on the OneAsia Order of Merit last year and earned U.S.$ 48,076. "I was very excited and honoured, and thought to myself that I can play in the 2016 Games in Brazil.
"I admire Liu Xiang (hurdler) and Lin Dan (who won the badminton gold medal). Although Liu Xiang did not do well, I still got power from Lin Dan. I dreamt I can play in the Olympics when I was watching.
"It's still four years until the Olympics, so I have the chance to prepare as best I can."
He added that the China Golf Association, one of OneAsia's founding partners, was giving Chinese players every opportunity to excel in the game.
"I have got great help for the past five years," said Zhang, who was in the Amateur National Team before joining the pro ranks.
"We have a swing coach, psychology coach and have full use of the practice facilities at Nanshan International Golf Club. We get support from all kinds of sides.
"Also, I get some invitations to play in European Challenge or European Tour events, and other international tournaments."