China’s Wu Ashun is hoping to create more history this week by successfully defending his Volvo China Open title, but will have to get to grips with a new venue in Beijing.
Wu became the first Chinese player to win a European Tour event on home soil when he finished a shot ahead of former Ryder Cup player David Howell in Shanghai last year.
But the 30-year-old is rated an 150/1 outsider to also become the first player from any country to defend the China Open, which is being staged for the first time at Topwin Golf and Country Club, which enjoys spectacular views of the Great Wall of China.
“I was very excited when I won this championship last year in Shanghai and I will remember that moment forever,” said Wu, who has recorded three top-10 finishes worldwide since his victory 12 months ago. “It was the best moment of my career, to get my first win on the European Tour. I feel very confident this week.
“The greens are difficult here. I will grasp the putting on these greens though, it’s very important for me. I will also try my best to put the ball in the right places on the green.”
Holland’s Joost Luiten is the favourite to claim his fifth European Tour title after finishing second in the Spanish Open and Shenzhen International in the last two weeks.
But Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen also comes into the event on the back of his third top-10 finish of the season in Shenzhen and knows a victory could have massive significance.
Olesen needs to win in Beijing to move into the world’s top 50 and qualify for the upcoming Players Championship at Sawgrass, while a fourth European Tour title would go a long way towards securing a place in the Olympics.
“It’s one of my big goals this year to qualify for the Olympic Games and I’m in at the moment,” said Olesen, who would join compatriot Soren Kjeldsen in Rio as things stand.
“I think it would be awesome to be a part of it. It’s something I’ve grown up watching, seeing all the different kinds of sports. There is so much history and it’s so special – it is great that golf is now a part of it.”
Marc Warren, Richie Ramsay, Stephen Gallacher, David Drysdale, Craig Lee, Scott Jamieson and Andrew McArthur are the Scots on duty in the event.