13 November 2018
Tomorrow's Stars Today - Xiao Bowen
Sentosa, Singapore, November 13: Life may seem all glamorous for China’s Xiao Bowen who is now travelling the length and breadth of Asia after winning in his first Asian Tour start at the 2017 Asian Golf Championship last November.
But his life as an Asian Tour winner today is a far cry from his early years when he was still chasing his dream of becoming a professional golfer.
Hailing from Shandong, Xiao, a self-taught golfer, found himself teaching golf in Beijing at the age of 20 in 2010. “I always wanted to play competitive golf and I didn’t want to give it up but my family wasn’t very supportive at that point of time.
“I thought I could give them some assurance by teaching golf and showing them that I can support myself. But having said that, I put in my best efforts in teaching my students. It didn’t matter if I earn lesser,” said Xiao, who would go on to turn professional in 2012.
Joining the play-for-pay ranks, however, was not as smooth-sailing as he would have imagined. From having no tournaments to play to struggling to make the halfway cuts, Xiao endured a grueling time in the pursuit of his dream.
“There weren’t any tournaments for me to play at home in 2013. It is bad for a professional golfer as there are no platforms for me to hone my skills. I managed to play four tournaments on my local circuit in 2014 but my results weren’t any good.”
2015 was even more a year of self-doubt and despair for Xiao. Despite having more playing opportunities, he struggled to perform, making only two cuts in 12 starts on his domestic Tour.
“It wasn’t easy that year. I started to question myself and didn’t know if I should stop playing for good. It’s worse when you still have to act like you’re fine and keep smiling. My dreams were becoming a burden but I knew most of the pressure came from myself,” he added.
“These are all good experiences for you. You need to be patient in professional golf. No one gets it in just one hit,” a friend advised him. It proved to be something that he would keep in mind even till today.
In 2016, he obtained a season-best tied-14th place finish. But as fate would have it, he notched two top-10s on his local circuit before claiming a stunning breakthrough at the Asian Golf Championship in 2017.
Xiao became the third Chinese golfer to win on the Asian Tour after Zhang Lian-wei and Liang Wen-chong. He won the Asian Golf Championship after beating Australian Bryden Macpherson on the second playoff hole.
Despite embarking on a long and arduous road to the Asian Tour, Xiao believes it was worth the journey and is confident he can soar to greater heights on the region’s premier Tour.
“If I had wanted to give up, I would have given up the first year after I took up golf. I guess it’s alright to feel lost in life sometimes. At least, I did not remain in the same position as I was before. I kept moving forward,” said Xiao, who is an avid fan of Tiger Woods.
"Winning on the Asian Tour meant the world to me. Before winning, I have imagined countless times how my first victory will be liked. I have never thought it would turn out the way it is. It hasn't been easy but I am glad I managed to get the job done,” he said.
A humble, down-to-earth and a brilliant golfer – Xiao is definitely one of Tomorrow’s Stars Today on the Asian Tour.