Rising star Huang Mingjie is eyeing a first victory on the Omega China Tour after a confidence-boosting spell during which he led the country's national Open and secured an equipment sponsor.
Huang, singled out as a player to watch by the talismanic Zhang Lianwei，made the golf world sit up and take notice when he grabbed a share of the first round lead in the Volvo China Open, an event sanctioned by the Asian and European Tours.
On the back of that showing and some good performances on the Omega China Tour, including a play-off loss to Zhang in the Shanghai Leg last year, Huang has been courted by equipment maker Srixon.
"I have a verbal agreement with them and will be going to Japan to get fitted for clubs," he said. "I am happy with this deal. Hopefully it can lead to better results and some more invitations to play events on the Asian and Japan Tours."
Huang was a latecomer to golf aged 18 but the former track and field athlete from Chengdu in Sichuan Province picked up the game quickly. He broke 90 in his first proper round after three months of coaching and two months later was regularly shooting in the 70s.
A runner-up finish to Liao Guiming in the 2001 China Amateur Open underlined his potential and since turning professional in 2003, Huang has been knocking on the door of success. He was third at the Kunming Leg on the 2005 Omega China Tour and his second place finish to Zhang in Shanghai and another runner-up spot at the Kunming Leg helped him finish fourth on last year's Order of Merit.
But it was his experience at the China Open in April, when his opening 68 saw him grab a share of the lead with Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin，that opened Huang's eyes to the mental as well as physical assets required to make it as a professional golfer. "I had problems keeping my momentum after the first day - that is one of the main differences at the moment between up and coming Chinese players and world class players," he said.
"Also it was the fist time in my professional career that I had led a big tournament after the first round and I was not prepared for the interviews - I did not know how to handle the media.
"Now I have had that experience it will benefit me in the future. I know now that I have to keep a positive frame of mind at all times. Before I went into tournaments on the bigger tours just wanting to make the cut.
Now I am thinking differently, looking at least for a top-10 finish." Huang knows that the next step on the ladder of success is achieving a victory on the Omega China Tour and he is confident of a breakthrough win this season. "I want to win at least once this year. The first one is always hard - after the first one I can win more," said the 26-year-old.
"I was really close last year in Shanghai (before losing to Zhang in sudden death)." Zhang picking him out as a future star means a lot to Huang. "This is a perfect complement for me. I would love to become the way he is - he is everybody's idol," he said.
"I have got the potential, I just need the time." The Qingdao Leg of the Omega China Tour, the second stop of the eight-event 2007 schedule, will be staged at the Qingdao Huashan Golf Club from May 31 to June 3.