Sports / Golf

Glittering praise for China's women golfers

By Tym Glaser in Haikou, Hainan province (China Daily) Updated: 2014-03-10 07:11

Glittering praise for China's women golfers

World No 2 Suzann Pettersen follows through on a drive during Saturday's third round of the World Ladies Championship at Mission Hills Hainan in Haikou. Xaume Olleros / Agence France-Presse

Norway's world No 2 says Feng leading charge to grow the game

The state of women's golf in China has received a massive endorsement from one of the game's premier players.

Suzann Pettersen, the world No 2 who has 14 LPGA Tour triumphs to her name, including two majors, said China is poised to become the "new Korea".

South Korea currently boasts a phenomenal eight players in the world top 20, including No 1 Park In-bee - which makes the Norwegian's statement almost outrageously grand.

"(World No 7) Feng Shanshan's success on the LPGA Tour has really helped to grow the game of golf for girls here in China," said Pettersen, who finished second behind Park at the World Ladies Championship at Mission Hills Haikou on Sunday.

"It's great to be here to showcase our game so they (young Chinese players) can match themselves against us.

"I always thought it was good when I was growing up to play against the best in the world to see where I was at and what I needed to improve.

"Being here should also help inspire the (Chinese) girls. I'm sure we are going to see a lot of Chinese on the various tours around the world soon and I think it is only a matter of time before China becomes the new Korea in the game of golf."

Pettersen, in her 14th year as a professional, also had some sage advice for China's young up-and-comers.

"First of all, you have really got to enjoy what you do. I think a lot of people when they turn pro beat themselves down because they try to do something different.

"I remember Kathy Whitworth (who won 88 LPGA titles, including six majors) came up to me at a dinner when I had just started on the Tour. She shook my hand, looked me straight in the eye and said, 'Don't ever let the passion get in your way.' That's the best advice I have ever received.

"It says a lot because some- times the will can be very strong too strong, but you just have to enjoy the process and work hard."

Despite Korea's current dominance and a possible Chinese surge in the not-too-distant future, Pettersen has no plans to hang up her golf shoes just yet as there are still some boxes to be ticked.

"Being the best female golfer in the world has always been a dream of mine," she said.

"I don't walk around thinking about it every day, I am much more process orientated; I just want to get half a percent or one percent better every day. I feel like I still have my best ahead of me and I really just want to see how good I can get.

"I know I have the skills to be the best in the world," said the statuesque blonde who has peaked at No 2 several times.

And, of course, there are the 2016 Olympics, for which Pettersen helped push golf's bid for reinstatement.

"When we got the go-ahead to rejoin the Olympics a dream in me started growing.

"Rio de Janeiro would be a great way to finish a career and could be a highlight for a golfer to see the Olympic village from an athlete's standpoint."

Pettersen will be 35 when the Games roll around and could have several more competitive years on the circuit left in her, but she knows she's on the back nine of her career.

"I know this journey isn't going to last forever so I try to take advice from players that have been in my position," she said.

"I am trying to see what I can do after I stop playing golf. I am way too into this game right now to put any great effort into that, but I'm confident I will be ready when that time comes."

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