After their best results at the Omega China Tour performance, the duo have climbed up the Omega Order of Merit.
The pair, who are close friends, each earned RMB70,000 after finishing joint runners-up behind Chinese Taipei’s Hsu Mong-nan in last week’s Shanghai Championship. As an event invite, Hsu does not count on the Omega Order of Merit.
The 30-year-old Liao, who now has recorded 10 top-10 finishes in four seasons on the Tour, moved to third on the Omega Order of Merit with RMB109,450. Chen, named the Tour’s ‘Most Improved Player’ after three top-four finishes last year, is fourth with RMB100,400.
Still leading the Omega Order of Merit is Zhang Lianwei, who returns to the Omega China Tour this week seeking to go one better than in last year’s Sofitel Golf Championship in Nanjing, when he finished runner-up to Wu Kangchun, who won the event in his maiden appearance as a professional.
Zhang, who won the 2006 Omega Order of Merit, has already signalled his intentions to regain his money list title in his two appearances on this year’s Omega China Tour.
The Guangdong-based 42-year-old won RMB150,000 for winning the season-opening Guangzhou Championship in March and then earned RMB90,000 after finishing runner-up to Li Chao at the Dell Championship in Xiamen later that month.
Although Zhang was absent from the last two events, Li missed the chance to make up significant ground on the veteran as the Beijing star seeks to win a third Omega Order of Merit title to add to his successes in 2005 and 2007.
Li surprisingly missed his first cut on the Tour at the Kunming Championship in April, having never even finished outside the top 10 in all 20 previous events on the Tour, which began in 2005. In Shanghai, the 28-year-old finished eighth to win RMB14,000 and take his Tour earnings this year to RMB186,000, still adrift of Zhang, who has RMB240,000.
Zhang and Li are among the favourites for this week’s Sofitel Golf Championship, along with Chinese Taipei invite Lu Wen-teh, who is playing his third successive event on the Omega China Tour. Lu, who recorded two victories on last year’s Asian Tour, won last month’s Kunming Championship to become the first non-mainland winner on the circuit.
Tsai Chi-huang, who finished runner-up in last year’s Shanghai Championship in his Tour debut, returns to the circuit as the event’s second invite from Chinese Taipei.
The second Sofitel Golf Championship is again being held over the spectacular Gary Player-designed layout at the Nanjing Zhongshan International Golf Club, which last year was named the Omega China Tour’s Best Venue of the Year.
Omega Order of Merit*
1. Zhang Lianwei RMB 240,000
2. Li Chao RMB186,000
3. Liao Guiming RMB109,450
4. Chen Xiaoma RMB100,400
5. Chen Dinggen RMB73,200
6. Jim Johnson RMB67,850
7. Wu Weihuang RMB63,830
8. Liu Anlin RMB62,200
9. Wu Kangchun RMB53,817
10. Fan Zhipeng RMB52,600
* As of May 19, 2008