What a great changes are happening in China these days! First, the Chinese Government lifted the ban for Communist Party members to play golf. Is there a connection between the 2016 Rio Games and the Chinese Government’s decision?
The other good news is China’s Haotong Li’s victory at the Volvo China Open. This is the first European Tour title for this CGA-HSBC China Junior Golf Program graduate. HSBC has supported junior golf in China for over nine years and recently renewed their partnership with the China Golf Association, ensuring the future of the program through to 2020.
Haotong Li‘s best performances until today saw him lose out in a play-off at the Shenzhen International last year and finish a creditable tied seventh in ‘Asia’s Major’ at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai in November.
Giles Morgan, Global Head of Sponsorship and Events at HSBC said: “Haotong Li’s win clearly demonstrates just how far golf in China has come over the last decade and what an exciting future the game has. It’s an incredible story of human ambition and shows exactly why HSBC supports golf and why our junior programs are so important to our sponsorships around the world. A win for any golfer in their home nation is inspiring but for this to happen in China for a 20-year-old is really special.”
Despite the recent victory, it is very early to sit back, as the CGA-HSBC China Junior Golf Program has attracted so far “only” 80,000 kids.
Today there are 473 facilities in China. The R&A found that the majority of growth in Asia is in China: 56 golf courses are in development and 46 projects are on hold. China is the 6th largest golf equipment market in the world.
What was in Haotong Li’s bag?
Driver: Nike Vapor Pro 9.5-degree
Fairway Wood: Nike Vapor Speed 3-wood 15-degree
Irons: Nike Vapor Fly Pro (3-4), Nike Vapor Pro (5-9)
Wedges: Nike Engage 48-degree, 54-degree, 60-degree
Putter: Nike Method Matter B2-05
Ball: Nike RZN Tour Platinum
Footwear: Nike Lunar Control 4
Other success stories of the CGA-HSBC China Junior Golf Program are:
- Ye Wo-cheng who became the youngest player in European Tour history when he lined up at the 2013 Volvo China Open and
- Andy Zhang, who qualified for the US Open at the age of 14;
- Lin Xiyu, one of the first ever participants and now a seed on the LPGA Tour hoping to represent China at Rio 2016,
- Dou Zecheng who is now on the men’s pro circuit.