World’s Woman’s golf Championship
Once known as ‘green opium’ due to its bourgeois decadence, slowly but surely golf is seeing a surge in its reputation in China, getting the nation well and truly hooked, and it is being played everywhere from wintry Dongbei right down to tropical Hainan. To paraphrase an old Chinese saying, ‘Wherever there is sunshine, there is Chinese. Wherever there is Chinese, there is golf.’ And, true to form, Dongguan is hot on the heels of such trends, with the city set to host one of the world’s premier international women’s golf tournaments later this month.
The World Ladies Championship to be held at the Mission Hills Dongguan site from March 10 to 13, will see over 120 of the world’s finest players from Europe, South Korea, and China take part, with total prize money set at 800,000 USD.
The course boasts over 150 bunkers, not to mention gorgeous stretches of forest alongside beautiful natural flowing streams, all creating a truly outstanding backdrop.
The tournament will take place on the eponymous Olazabal course, designed by none-other than Jose Maria Olazabal, one of Europe’s golfing legends, known for his superlative sand-play. Accordingly, the course boasts over 150 bunkers, not to mention gorgeous stretches of forest alongside beautiful natural flowing streams, all creating a truly outstanding backdrop.
With golf re-joining the Olympics as a sport in Rio 2016, the Mission Hills events is perfectly timed for professionals to perfect their play and pick up invaluable ranking points on the long march to Rio.
It will be the first time for the World Ladies Championship to come to Dongguan, and golf players and officials are extremely excited. Speaking about the event, Tenniel Chu, Vice Chairman of Mission Hills Group, said: “We are excited at the prospect of bringing the World Ladies Championship to Mission Hills. We see it as a window to showcase China to the world and, with the Olympics in mind, a chance to provide our mainland Chinese players with the opportunity to compete with the game’s finest players.”
Participants will be seeking to add their name to the illustrious list of past winners – Feng Shanshan of China, Norway’s Suzann Pettersen and Koreans Park In-bee and Ryu So-yeon.This is the first time that so many players from three sanctioning bodies – Korea, Europe and China – have come together in the same field.
This tournament will see over 120 players, a mixture of rookies, up and coming professionals, and seasoned pros, including American, Beth Allen currently ranked first on the LET order of Merit, 20 year-old sensation and Guangzhou native Lin Xi Yu, the 2015 LET player of the Year Nicole Broch Larsen, French Legend Gwaldys Nocera who has14 LET wins to her name, Danish Nanna Koertz Madsen currently standing fifth on the LET, Korean powerhouse Kim Min Sun, Welsh wonder and 2014 Rookie of the Year, Amy Boulden, as well as 2015 LET Rookie of the Year, Emily Kristine Pederson.
“We see it as a window to showcase China to the world and, with the Olympics in mind, a chance to provide our mainland Chinese players with the opportunity to compete with the game’s finest players.”
TK Pen, Vice President (Honorary) of the China Golf Association and Chairman of the China LPGA Tour, said: “On this 5th anniversary of the World Ladies Championship, the event has moved to the Mission Hills Dongguan Olazabal course. In addition to a top international field, the tournament provides the opportunity for players to earn valuable world ranking points before this year’s Rio Olympics as one of high-level international ladies events before the Games.”
For the past two years the tournament (both the individual and team event) has been won by Koreans Inbee Park in 2014 and Ryu So Yeon in 2015 and the nation will be eager to maintain they winning streak this time around. Kang Choon-ja, Senior Vice President of Korean Ladies Professional Golf Association saying: “It is our honour to join forces with the World Ladies Championship and to partner with Mission Hills, the LET and the China LPGA Tour. We are especially happy to create this opportunity for our leading Korean players to play top-level golf at such a well-known venue.”
The event will see heavy involvement from the European Ladies tour too. Ivan Khodabakhsh, Chief Executive Officer of the LET said: “The Ladies European Tour has driven this initiative and we are proud to have delivered these innovations working closely with the China LPGA Tour and Mission Hills. Over the last four years, the World Ladies Championship has quickly become one of the standout tournaments staged across the globe. Our members always look forward to competing in this tournament and with golf returning to the Olympic Games in August, it will be intriguing to watch the world’s best players at Mission Hills.”
The long-term vision of the organisers is to have the event—which has a long-standing partnership with global services brand, American Express—be recognised as the sixth Major event on the women’s international calendar and the first in Asia.
It might not be today, or even tomorrow, but sooner rather than later, China could well be one of the major golf nations on the globe, with Mission Hills leading the way, putting China and Dongguan firmly on the world’s golfing map.
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