Gary Player excited by growth of Asian golf

Haikou (China), Oct 22 (IANS) Legendary golfer Gary Player said he was proud and excited by the growth of the sport in Asia and thinks it is only a matter of time before a future Tiger Woods comes from China.

The nine-time Major Champion was on Friday speaking from the Chinese tropical island of Hainan on the eve of the 2016 Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am, reports Xinhua.

“Golf in Asia is growing quicker than anywhere else in the world and I was very proud to see a Chinese lady (Feng Shanshan) win a bronze medal at the Olympics,” said the 80-year-old South African.

“We are going to see a Tiger Woods come from China in a matter of time which will be very exciting.”

Player will be gracing the fairways of the signature Blackstone Course at Mission Hills Haikou on October 22-23 for the fourth edition of the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am.

He is joined by John Daly, Mark O’Meara and Rich Beem — all Major winners — plus an equally impressive foursome of LPGA stars Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis, Suzann Pettersen and Anna Nordqvist.

Local favorite Li Haotong, winner of the European Tour’s Volvo China Open earlier this year, will make up the field of nine elite golfers who will be competing over two rounds of individual stableford for a prize purse of $1 million — with $250,000 going to the winner.

Excitement is building not just among the golfers but also from the sporting and entertainment icons who will be playing alongside them in a separate bid for the celebrity and team titles.

Hollywood stars Michael Douglas and Jeremy Renner are just two of the celebrities in Haikou for the week of golf and glamour.

Stars from the world of sport include three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker and basketball Hall of Famers Allen Iverson and Yao Ming.

They are joined by a host of footballing legends, including Manchester United stars Paul Scholes, Dwight Yorke, Lee Sharpe and David May and Liverpool greats Robbie Fowler, Luis Garcia and Gary McAllister.

The biennial Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am was established in 2010 as Asia’s first and only pro-celebrity golf tournament.

This sporting and entertainment extravaganza — which reaches more than 26 television channels in Greater China and over 200 countries and regions worldwide — aims to popularise golf in China whilst also promoting Hainan Island as a tourist destination and supporting local charities.

Proceeds are being donated to The Nature Conservancy and the Hainan United Youth Association.

–IANS

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