(04/20/2007)– Golf legend Jack Nicklaus and two-time major winner John Daly will grace the inaugural Pine Valley Beijing Open alongside the Asian Tour’s best players next week.
Nicklaus, an 18-time Major champion, will make a guest appearance at the Pine Valley Resort and Golf Club where he will attend the club’s phase II course opening ceremony and conduct a junior clinic, held in conjunction with the US$500,000 event.
Big-hitting Daly, a five-time winner on the US PGA Tour, will tee up from April 26-29 in his bid to win a second title in Asia following his triumph in the Korean Open in 2003.
Local heroes Zhang Lian-wei and Liang Wen-chong will carry the Chinese challenge while current Asian Tour’s UBS Order of Merit leader Anton Haig of South Africa and Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat, third on the ranking, are amongst the leading players who will tee up in the full field Asian Tour tournament.
While his last triumph came nearly three years ago, Daly, who is currently playing in the on-going BMW Asian Open in Shanghai this week, is confident he can return to winning ways when he turns 41 during the Pine Valley Beijing Open.
“I look at Vijay Singh and he has won 28 times in four or five years since he turned 40. I wouldn’t be playing if I didn’t think I could still do it and hopefully the best years are ahead of me,” said Daly.
The “Grip it and Rip it” star will certainly be a crowd puller next week and hopes to reward his fans with a win. At the start of the year, Daly hooked with swing coach Michael Owen in a bid to gain an extra edge in the game.
“When you turn 40 it seems like the eyes don’t see as well. I am a feel player around the greens and we are trying to work on consistency, mainly with the putter. He is mainly a short game coach for me.”
“The swing when I play practice rounds is great and then completely different when the tournament starts. He is mainly acting as another pair of eyes. I have such a long putting stroke we have tried to add some weight to the putter to shorten it so hopefully that will help me in the future,” said Daly.
The Californian-born talent, who turned pro in 1987, joined the US PGA Tour in 1991 and has since been making headlines across the globe. He won the 1991 PGA Championship for his maiden Major triumph and then sealed a famous victory at the 1995 British Open. His most recent win on US PGA Tour was at the Buick Invitational in 2004.
Liang, who is currently ranked on the UBS Order of Merit, will be gunning for a home win after a successful season this year. He defeated Malaysia’s Iain Steel in a play-off in the Clariden Leu Singapore Masters for his maiden success on the Asian Tour and has produced three other top-10 finishes this season.
Haig, still 20, will be looking to secure a second victory of the year following his impressive success at the Johnnie Walker Classic in Phuket in March where he beat an elite field that included his idols Ernie Els and Retief Goosen.
Source – Beijing Open