Zhou Xunshu: A pro golfer on the China Tour Rotating Header Image

2007 Xiamen

Zhou Xunshu featured on ESPN.com

Sorry for the lack of updates here of late. We’ll summarize the last couple months: Zhou struggled after Day 1 in Xiamen to finish 29th and he failed to make the cut in Beijing at the Omega Championship, thus dropping out of the top 20 on the China Tour’s Order of Merit (he finished No. 22). Zhou’s mind was elsewhere. With money he saved from teaching golf over the past few years, Zhou bought an apartment in Chongqing and was busy focusing on the interior design, he got married in November (pics coming soon) to longtime girlfriend/fiancee Liu Yan (a former caddie in Guangzhou) and he learned the happy couple was going to become a threesome — they are expecting a child in 2008. Golf took a backseat to life.

But what an interesting life it is. At least ESPN.com thinks so. Click here to read the feature story about Zhou that ran last week. Here is how it begins:

In 1984, when China ushered in its first modern-day golf course, Zhou Xunshu was 12 years old, living in an impoverished mountain village in the country’s midsection. At his school, light came from kerosene lamps, heat from a coal furnace in the middle of the classroom. At home, Zhou worked in the fields, cutting tall grass with a sickle. He didn’t know a sport called golf existed.

In 1994, when China first acknowledged “golf pro” as a profession, Zhou enrolled in a military-operated police school, trying to find direction in his life. He had spent the previous four years studying to pass the senior high school entrance exam — his parents had hoped he would be the first family member to do so — but schooling was never Zhou’s strong suit. Four years in a row he went through the motions, and four years in a row he failed. Now 22, Zhou had still never heard the word “golf.”

A year later, Zhou made a move that would alter the course of his life in the most unexpected way. He left police school early and hopped on a train to Guangzhou after hearing there were jobs to be had in the southern boomtown. Zhou landed a gig as a security guard … at something called a “golf course.” Things would never be the same.

Here are links to all the stories ESPN.com ran on the China Tour:

Zhou makes remarkable leap into professional golf
How they got to the China Tour
Golf in China: All growing, all new, all raw

Zhou is also going to be featured in an upcoming book about golf in China, Par for China.

2008 should be an exciting year!

Xiamen, Day 1: Late bogeys drop Zhou from top 3

Zhou Xun Shu rebounded nicely from the worst performance of his professional golf career, but his one-under 69 on Thursday was another round that left him pondering, “What if?” Last week in Guangzhou, Zhou finished almost dead last in the Midea Classic, an Asian Tour event with lots of foreign pros and a big US$400,000 purse. But a freak accident — Zhou slipped and fell while crossing a road median — left his left thumb bloody and raw, and the pain made driving the ball problematic. Zhou’s early exit in Guangzhou allowed his thumb to heal, and gave him time to focus on the Xiamen Leg of the China Tour, the second to last event of the 2007 season. He arrived in Xiamen on Saturday.

The extra time appeared to pay dividends during the opening round at Orient Golf & Country Club. As Zhou walked the 18th fairway, the big leaderboard in the distance showed him in first place at 3-under. But the scoredboard had yet to record the bogey Zhou registered on No. 17 after teeing off into a clutch of small palm trees. And the scoreboard also had yet to recognize the bogey Zhou was about to score on 18. He left his 55-foot birdie putt short — about 7 feet short — and his par putt stopped one inch from the cup. And thus 3-under quickly became 1-under and the scorekeepers scrambled to remove Zhou’s name from the big board.

Still, Zhou’s 69 put him in a seven-way tie for seventh place, four strokes behind the leader, Wu Kangchun, who shot a 65 despite a double bogey on No. 7.

View the entire leaderboard here.