Tencent’s clubbable guy


China has form when it comes to its business leaders scaling the heights of achievement in areas unrelated to their day jobs. Wang Shi, for instance, took time out from running real estate giant Vanke to climb Mount Everest (twice).

Step forward Zhang Xiaolong the Tencent engineer famed throughout China for creating the ubiquitous social media app WeChat. About seven years ago he switched hobbies from tennis to golf – and decided he wanted to be as good at swinging an iron as he is at coding software. That goal looks to have been realised this month when he won the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland.

The title he won was one of the two most prestigious Pro-Am tournaments (the other being at America’s Pebble Beach) alongside professional golfer Li Haotong. Not only was it the first time a Chinese duo had won the Alfred Dunhill prize, Zhang sunk the winning putt. The tournament creates a composite score from the best shots of each player, played over four days and ending at the fabled St Andrews Old Course. Li shot a 10 under par 66, while their composite score was 35 under, suggesting Tencent’s Zhang did most of the heavy lifting when it came to accumulating birdies and eagles. Both men said the key to winning the European Tour event was a hotpot meal they ate at the Fairmont Hotel the night before the final round. The next day they shot 11 under par. WiC advises the Fairmont to stock up on mutton, as it can expect a lot of visiting Chinese golfers to emulate Zhang’s choice of meal…

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