Top China LPGA Tour player Zhang aims for Wuhan win

WUHAN, June 12 (Xinhua) -- Zhang Weiwei, the China LPGA Tour's top player this season, confirmed Wednesday that she will attempt to get her playing card in either Japan or the US at the end of the year through their respective qualifying schools.

Speaking in Hubei province prior to the start of Thursday's 500,000-yuan Wuhan Challenge, the 22-year-old Zhang, a two-time winner on the China Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour, said this year was all about preparing for playing overseas next season.

"I may be up in the air, going back and forth from Japan to the US, starting from September to December to play the qualification tournament," she said after her practice round at Orient Wuhan. "There are a lot of good (Chinese) players coming up on this Tour. They are so young and hard working, which give me motivation to work even harder. I wish to play with them in Japan or the US in future."

The Hubei native is in the midst of a career-best season in a year that includes a win in Beijing last month, a runner-up in Zhuhai, two equal seconds, an equal third and a sixth-place finish in six starts. She currently leads the CLPGA Tour Order of Merit with 339,130 yuan in prize money and is No. 245 in the Rolex World Rankings.

"I've spent a lot of time practicing this year, especially on putting. I take an extra hour every day on my putting and it has turned out well. I have also been taking time to work on my mindset. Now I always feel peaceful. I don't get angry when having a bad shot. The improvement in my putting and mentality are the main reasons I played well recently."

Zhang, who is playing in Wuhan for the first time since 2015 when she finished equal seventh, said with the abundance of water hazards on the course whoever was the most accurate on the fairways and greens this week would determine the winner.

"Compared to previous years, the greens are way faster. It is more difficult now. I hope I can maintain my mentality and keep my putting steady. Of course I am playing for another win. If you need a number, I want to get three-under par each day for this week."

Huang Ching is the defending champion. The Chinese Taipei native won last year's tournament by two strokes after carding birdies on the final two holes of the Orient Wuhan layout for her maiden CLPGA Tour win.

"At the beginning of this year I went to South Korea to work on my putting. I feel confident with it now but my driver is a little bit off. My long game offset my improvement of putting so I can only rate myself 60/100 for this season," said the 22-year-old Kaohsiung native.

"This course is not an easy course to me. It is not the same type of course I usually practice at. The fairways are short but narrow, so tee shots are critical. You also need to rely on your short game. I am not thinking about defending, I just want to perform better than last year."

Orient Wuhan is a 6,102-yard, par-72 layout designed by TK Pen.