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SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Wu Ashun came within a whisker of the best result by a Chinese player at the WGC event when he finished equal 14th at the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament on Sunday.
Wu finished seven strokes behind winner Bubba Watson, though the fact he was only mildly pleased with his performance against the best players in the world was a sign the new breed of Chinese players are not prepared just to make up the numbers.
After finishing equal 64th at the European Tour's BMW Masters last week, Wu found his putting stroke and also reaped the benefit of a minor swing adjustment.
"I improved a lot this week," he told Reuters via in interpreter outside the Sheshan clubhouse. "More importantly, my mindset was more relaxed, so I felt more comfortable."
Wu, 29, did not flinch when asked whether he could eventually beat the world's very best players.
"I think if I'm consistent and work hard, eventually I will reach those heights, but it's not simple. There are still a lot of things to improve.
"I will come back next year and hope to get a better result."
As much as the large galleries that descended on Sheshan on Sunday enjoyed watching Watson's powerful display of long hitting, nothing would give Asia's biggest tournament a seismic jolt like a home-grown winner.
Experienced Chinese player Liang Wen-chong believes the country is on the verge of having a regular presence on the leaderboard at big international tournaments.
Chong cited Guan Tianlang -- who at the age of 14 finished 58th at the 2013 Masters -- as being the first of a wave of Chinese golfers about to surprise the golfing world.
"There is not only one Guan Tianlang in China," said Chong, who in 2007 became the second Chinese player to win on the European Tour when he captured the Singapore Masters.
"We have a bunch of kids who play as good as Guan Tianlang – such as Dou Ze-cheng, who played in this tournament," he added of the teenager Dou who made his professional debut in Shanghai and finished equal 69th at 13-over.
"That's why I have full confidence in the new generation of Chinese golfers."
Editing by Greg Stutchbury