Aus golfer Cullen takes on Poulter and Casey in China

19 April 2012 05:16

Australian golfer Nick Cullen will try to become only the second player to claim back-to-back titles on the OneAsia tour when he tees off at the Volvo China Open Thursday.

But the left-hander will find himself up against star players at Tianjin's Binhai Lake Golf Club, including Englishmen Ian Poulter and Paul Casey, Sweden's Peter Hanson and defending champion Nicolas Colsaerts from Belgium.

Cullen, 28, claimed OneAsia's season-opening Enjoy Jakarta Indonesia Open last month -- his first victory as a professional -- to take an early lead on the OneAsia Order of Merit.

This week's $3 million event is joint-sanctioned with the European Tour. And leading the OneAsia challenge along with Cullen is fellow Australian Andre Stolz, Kim Bi-o from Korea and Indonesian Rory Hie.

"It's a quality field and I am excited to be here," Cullen was quoted as saying in a press release from the OneAsia tour.

"Being able to play at this level is what it is all about. Obviously I am not thinking about winning but I am playing well and will give it a good go."

Cullen triumphed in Indonesia by one stroke after fighting back from a triple bogey on the 14th.

"I was tied 10th going into the last round of the Australian Open last year and learned a lot from that experience plus I have been giving myself chances over the last six months," he said.

The Australian has been paired with South African Branden Grace and Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey, both winners on this season's European Tour.

He overcame a back problem that put him out of action for three month's last year with the help of Ramsay McMaster -- the Australian golf physiotherapist who passed away in December.

Cullen can also use the Volvo China Open as something of a warm up for this year's Open Championship.

He made it through the international qualifiers in January and with Binhai Lake bearing a strong resemblance to a links course he will be able learn a great deal.

Only his compatriot Greg Chalmers has won back-to-back titles on OneAsia, in last year's Emirates Australian Open and the Australian PGA Championship presented by Coca-cola.

The Volvo China Open is one of five national Opens on the OneAsia schedule along with Australia, Indonesia, Korea and Thailand.