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Li longing for Presidents Cup chance

By Yang Xinwei | China Daily | Updated: 2018-11-28 09:23
Chinese golfers Wu Ashun (left) and Li Haotong pose for a selfie with International team captain Ernie Els at a Presidents Cup media briefing on Sunday in Melbourne. Photo provided to China Daily

Li Haotong is raring to take the challenge to the United States as he closes on a spot in the International team for next year's Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.

Sitting third in the team's selection rankings, the world No 42 looks set to make it onto Ernie Els' 12-man squad for the Dec 9-15 tournament.

And the prospect of becoming China's first representative at the biennial event is one that has the rising 23-year-old star psyched.

"Last year, I missed making the team by like a couple of spots which was a bit disappointing. I think it's a new opportunity for me to get into the team and we hope to win it this time," said Li at the unveiling of the International team's new logo in Melbourne.

"The special thing is that if you make the team, you know you have to play really solid over a span of time. That's the main thing for me.

"It'll be special to play for Ernie. I played with him at the British Open last year and he's always supported my career a lot since then.

"He'll be a good captain. It's going to be a huge honor for us, and hopefully I can get on the team and win the event."

Li could be joined by compatriot Wu Ashun in Els' squad.

The 33-year-old Wu, who is currently 11th in the rankings, joined Li and fellow International hopefuls Anirban Lahiri of India, South Korea's Kim Si-woo, Venezuela's Jhonattan Vegas and Mexico's Abraham Ancer at the logo unveiling.

Like Li, Wu is excited at the prospect of doing China proud Down Under.

"The Presidents Cup for us is very important as it's the only team competition that we can play in," said Wu, who is ranked 178th in the world.

"It'll be special to get in the team as no Chinese golfer has made it into the team before.

"It'll be good to play at Royal Melbourne. The logo design is beautiful, I like it a lot. To have our country's flag in the logo, it makes you want to play even more in the tournament."

Elaborating on the new badge, South African Els, a four-time major winner, said: "It's a special group of guys from all over the world that make up the Presidents Cup International team.

"Being from across the globe, we don't all play for the same flag. This special group of people needed something to identify with. To lift the spirit of the team, we felt like we needed a logo for ourselves.

"To have this logo to bond us together and still represent our countries and our flags, is something we can all be a part of and all get behind.

"The players here represent the future of this team, with traditional countries like Australia and Korea mixed together with some new, emerging countries where golf is growing, like Mexico, Thailand, India and China."

The return to Royal Melbourne will mark the third time in the event's 25-year history it has been staged at the renowned Sandbelt course, where Els was a Heineken Classic winner in 2002.

Melbourne holds the distinction as the site of the Internationals' lone victory in 1998, which saw a Peter Thomson-captained team defeat Jack Nicklaus' Americans, 20.5 to 11.5.

In 2011, Fred Couples led the US to a 19-15 win over Greg Norman's Internationals.

The tournament will feature the top 12 players from the US against the top 12 from across the globe, excluding Europe.

 

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