Sports / Golf

Baby steps for nation in its golf infancy

By Associated Press in Shanghai (China Daily) Updated: 2014-11-15 06:48

Baby steps for nation in its golf infancy

Teen star Guan Tianlang lets it rip at the Hong Kong Open last year. [Photo/Agencies]

The sport is relatively new in China but young stars are emerging and expected to take the game to even greater heights

The graceful movement was enough to get the full attention of Adam Scott, who knows a good golf swing when he sees one.

Scott only remembers her name as Tina. She was one of several Chinese juniors afforded a chance to play with the pros for one hole on the eve of the HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

And she made quite an impression.

"I played with an 11-year-old girl this week who if she does nothing but continues to play, I'm sure she'll be on the LPGA Tour in about five years," Scott said. "She played off my tees on the 17th, 205 yards. Hit a 3-wood to 15 feet and lipped it out. Made an easy 3. Just looked beautiful."

Four years ago, Tiger Woods was introduced to a 12-year-old on the same hole at Sheshan International. Woods was amazed at the poise the boy showed in hitting over the gorge and onto the green with the largest gallery on the course watching.

His name was Guan Tianlang, and two years later he became the youngest player to make the cut in the Masters.

Each year brings more advancement by Chinese golfers, and the inaugural year of PGA Tour China would appear to be accelerating that growth.

With three events remaining on the 12-tournament schedule, one of the top five golfers in position to get his Tour card is Li Haotong, a lanky 19-year-old who has shown signs of being able to compete against stronger, more experienced players.

The China Golf Association gets limited places for its players when tournaments are held in China, and Li is coming off two solid weeks.

He tied for 43rd at the BMW Masters on the European Tour (on his home course at Lake Malaren). A week later, in the HSBC Champions, a World Golf Championship event featuring 40 of the top 50 in the world ranking, he closed with a 67 for the second-best round on Sunday. He tied for 35th with Jimmy Walker and Jordan Spieth.

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