Sports / Golf

Reignwood to drive golf's profile

By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily) Updated: 2016-09-20 08:16

Reignwood to drive golf's profile

Feng Shanshan of China tracks her shot on the 13th hole during the third round of the Evian Championship in Evian, France on Saturday. [Photo/Agencies]

With the excitement of China winning its first Olympic golf medal still fresh, the return of the Reignwood LPGA Classic to Beijing will further raise the game's profile in China.

The Reignwood Classic, an event on the 2016 Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour, will be held for the third time at the capital's Pine Valley Golf Club from Sept 29-Oct 2. The event's total purse is Asia's largest for a golf tournament, at $2.1 million.

A total number of 81 elite players, including 62 LPGA stars and 15 Chinese players will compete in 72-hole no-cut stroke-play for both the cash prizes and the 500 ranking points which will go to the winner.

The event, which was launched by the Chinese Golf Association, LPGA and Reignwood in 2013, wasn't staged last year due to scheduling conflicts.

China's major winner Feng Shanshan will return to play on home soil after winning a bronze medal as golf returned as an Olympic sport at the Rio Games last month, after a hiatus of 112 years.

Holding the prestigious event right after the Olympics will serve to both maintain the sport's momentum in China and give homegrown players a crucial opportunity to test their skills, according to the event's organizers.

"Shanshan winning China's first Olympic medal proved that Chinese players can operate successfully on the world stage and helped raise the game's profile in China's sporting circles," said Zhong Min, deputy director of the Olympic department of Multi-ball Games Administrative Center, golf's governing body in China.

He added: "Introducing more professional tournaments such as the Reignwood Classic will provide more chances for young Chinese talents to learn directly from the world's best. It's also an effective way to push the game forward in addition to the Olympic excitement."

Feng, who claimed China's first major golf title by winning the LPGA Championship in 2012, said she is eager to return to the club's Nicklaus Course, where she won the inaugural Reignwood Classic in 2013.

"The tournament holds a special place in my heart, not only because of Reignwood's support for me, but also the victory that I will remember for the rest of my life. I believe more Chinese players can create their own special memories at the tournament in the years to come," Feng said in a release sent from the Evian Championship in France.

Also joining Feng on the Chinese roster for the tournament is young golfer Lin Xiyu, who competed at the Rio Olympics as well and hit a jaw-dropping hole-in-one during the third round in Rio.

Lin's rapid improvement, from amassing world ranking points on the China LPGA Tour in 2011 to earning a spot on the LPGA Tour in 2014, has highlighted the importance of bringing high-profile events to China in order to fast-track the development of the country's young hopefuls.


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