Chinese stories (part one)

2017 China Golf Tour International Qualifier, Kummin, Yunnan Province

Jean-Luc Burnier is a Swiss pro playing on the 2017 Chinese Golf Tour after ending 11th at the 72 hole qualifying tournament on last May. He keeps a diary of his whereabouts in China. Here’s an excerpt. Putt yourselves in his shoes and get an idea of the daily life of all these talents looking relentlessly for any path leading to the European Tour.

Week 1

China Gof Tour is the new name of the PGA Tour China dropped by the Americans and now solely run under the China Golf Association (CGA) banner. Well, we all could say that these guys are not quite ready yet. Here’s an example. Two China Golf Tour’s events were scheduled on last June somewhere on the western side of the country, but tagged “TBC” in the schedule. Being Swiss, so naturally well organized, I book the cheapest flights to get there, the tickets carrying a sizable penalty for any amendment…When the CGT changed the tournament location without notice, it just cost me dear like paying twice my ticket. Lesson one: wait a Chinese event to be 100% confirmed before using a credit card!

Jean-Luc Burnier, a steady swing

So on June 17th, I flew to Beijing on the Emirates’ wide body A380 and the recent Boeing 777. Two legs and a welcome lay over stop in Dubai. It was my first Chinese experience, starting with the cab driver. I didn’t know that the locals don’t apprehend any Chinese word written with Latin characters (pinyin), but only the Chinese signs. Forget English. It was then quite a struggle to be driven to my hotel.

The next day I took it easy and went sightseeing Beijing inhabited by 23 million people… A pretty small city indeed! My best amazing discovery was the Great Wall. After two subway rides and a bus trip, I was breathless once on the monument, walking up and down the endless stairs for a couple of miles on just a little portion of the whole thing. A must do for any visitor.

Back to golf on Monday at the venue (Fragrant Hills Beijing), training at the range, walking the course to picture it between my ears, analyzing the greens and their speed, then putting up a game strategy. I played again 18 holes the next day and nine on Wednesday, trying to hit accurate sand wedges from the traps, different clubs from the rough, chipping from the greens’ sides to see how the ball reacted. Are the greens soft enough to allow some spin on my approach shots? Are they firm?…

On the evening of the same day, I was waiting for a pro friend of mine to share my room with. On this satellite tour in China,, the  rules and regulations, and the prize money are comparable to the European Challenge Tour’s, meaning that if  I don’t do well, my income will suffer. So on travel, I’m usually looking for a player that copes with my way of life, resting or practicing as my timetable suggests. It’s a welcome company and a substantial money saver even though it means a loss of some privacy. But “à la guerre comme à la guerre”… Anyway my roommate just got in the day after at… 5:00am, result of the usual flight delays or cancellations. And to go from bad to worst, he was DQ for missing his tee -time having misread the official sheet. Totally pissed off, he fancied that was a bad sign and got back home instead of staying to practice for four days and depart for the next tournament. As an immediate consequence, I was to face the full room rate.

Thursday was booked for the 1st round. Somehow nervous and excited, I felt some pressure, the other guys having already played on that tour. Not me. But I was solid enough to putt that aside. Anything can happen to anyone on a golf course, me included, and a missed event has nothing to do with it. I played well my first round, with a big mistake on #12, erased on the last holes to be on par for the opener.

11th and qualified for the 2017 China Golf Tour

 The next day was unreal. For no reason, my golf swing was in the zone. Unbelievable! I was hitting the ball really good with a putt on #12 to go 5 under. Then a storm came in and it got harder. I still finished -3 for a tied 15th position after two rounds keeping me in contention for the weekend. We’ll never get a proper proven explanation on why I played so badly on the 3rd round. What a bipolar game! All the great feel the day before vanished. Balls all over the place, short putts missed… Giving my best to control the outcome, I could only manage a poor four over. So calm and patience were the motto for the last round, but it started on the same bad path with imprecise golf shots. After a struggle on the first six holes, I decided to somehow amend my swing,. Definitely risky would say any coach, but it worked well with three birdies on the remaining twelve holes, and a place inside the top half of the leaderboard and many good details to improve my game. JLB/pph

Part 2 follows

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Publié par Jean-Luc Burnier Golf Professional sur mardi 20 juin 2017