Saturday, November 8, 2008

Chinese golf becomes a major force

By Nick Mulvenney

SHANGHAI, Nov 8 (Reuters) - China's golf chief Zhang Xiaoning said extending the rain-disrupted HSBC Champions to Monday signified the world's most populous country had arrived as a major force in international golf.

Wet weather washed out play on Friday and delayed the start of the second round by three hours on Saturday, forcing organisers of the $5 million tournament to schedule a fifth day.

"Monday play is an honour reserved for only the most important tournaments," said Zhang, secretary-general of the China Golf Association (CGA).

"It has proved we have one of the world's most important tournaments and it has proved Chinese golf has truly arrived on the world stage."

The 2005 Asian Open in Shanghai was also rain-disrupted and extended to Monday but China's golfing trailblazer Zhang Liangwei said the decision to extend this week's event was a "significant moment".

"I'm very proud for Chinese golf," said the 43-year-old, who was the first man from his country to play at one of golf's four majors, the 2004 U.S. Masters.

"At the start of my career there were almost no tournaments in China. Now we have an event that is treated with the respect normally given to the majors."

My thoughts

I keep hearing China is the future and this step shows that they are serious about their golf. What will the golfing world look like in 50 years? I am not sure, but I am convinced China will be involved!

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