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Zong Eyes Traditional Faldo Series Kunming Championship Success

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29 January 2019

Kunming, China (January 27): For decades, Chinese New Year traditions have included family reunions, eating dumplings and setting off firecrackers.

Ahead of the Year of the Pig, a more recent tradition will be played out with the Nick Faldo-designed Lakeview Golf Club course staging the Faldo Series Kunming Championship for the 12th occasion in a row.

Meanwhile, following his triumphs in the event in 2017 and 2018, Zong Zenghaoqi will be aiming to celebrate what has become a traditional storyline by capturing the title for a third year in succession.

Not only is Zong familiar with the award-winning layout, but also the wintry conditions that have been a feature of the tournament.

Last year, snow fell during the championship as temperatures plunged to minus-two degrees Centigrade.

Although the weather forecast is not quite so severe this time around, cold weather clothing is likely to be in evidence in the 15th and final qualifying leg of the 2018-19 Faldo Series Asia season which forms part of The R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking.

Zong, however, will be unperturbed as he seeks to book himself a starting spot in the 13th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, to be hosted by Sir Nick Faldo at Laguna Lăng Cô in Danang, Central Vietnam in March.

In last year's Grand Final, Zong flattered to deceive, as he was unable to build on a steady opening 74. Further returns of 78 and 79 saw him finish in a tie for 16th place in the Boys' Under-16 category – a performance he'd like to improve upon in 2019.

A unique recent feature of the Faldo Series Kunming Championship has been the staging of a mixed under-12 category, which organisers are hoping to implement once more this year.

Six-time Major championship winner Faldo, Britain's most successful golfer, said: "It's an encouraging sign for the future of elite amateur golf in Kunming and China that there's a demand for young players to experience a competitive environment.

"It's my hope that within a couple of years we'll be seeing some of those under-12s qualifying for the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final."

The 2018-19 Faldo Series Asia season is supported by The R&A and endorsed by the Asian Tour and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation. The International Junior Golf Academy is a partner of the Faldo Series.

As well as two events in China and Thailand, championships are being staged in Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chinese-Taipei, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.

Recognised as the only global amateur series for boys and girls, the Faldo Series was established in 1996, expanding to Asia in 2006.

Today, 40 Faldo Series tournaments take place in 30-plus countries worldwide, touching more than 7,000 golfers each year. Past champions include Tseng Ya-ni and Rory McIlroy, both multiple Major winners, while Thidapa Suwannapura (2010 Faldo Series Asia Grand Final Girls' champion) and Nasa Hataoka (2016 Faldo Series Asia Grand Final Girls' champion) both won on last year's LPGA Tour.