China Ladies Open serves as show­case for Asia’s best

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By QIU QUAN­LIN in Qingyuan, Guang­dong

The Hyundai China Ladies Open, a flag­ship tour­na­ment co-sponsored by the China LPGA Tour and the LPGA of Korea Tour, takes place from Fri­day to Sun­day in Qingyuan, Guang­dong prov­ince.

Even though the event has been dom­i­nated by South Kore­ans since its launch in 2006, it has played a sig­nif­i­cant role in help­ing grow the sport in China.

Li Hong, CEO of China LPGA Tour Ltd, re­cently sat down with China Daily to dis­cuss the tour­na­ment’s im­pact on raising the in­ter­na­tional pro­file of Chi­nese golf.

Why is this tour­na­ment a mile­stone event in the history of fe­male golf in China?

Prior to the China Ladies Open, the coun­try had no pro­fes­sional events for fe­male golfers. We were very lucky that we had the South Korean side to co-spon­sor the event. Both the event or­ga­niz­ers and Chi­nese play­ers have learned a lot from the Kore­ans. Most im­por­tantly, through the past decade of co­op­er­a­tion, we have seen what we must do to pro­mote the sport. We need to take con­crete mea­sures to help de­velop as a pow­er­house of golf.

What mea­sures has the China LPGA taken to pro­mote the sport?

The China LPGA Tour is one of the im­por­tant ways. The tour pro­vides a ma­jor plat­form for Chi­nese fe­male play­ers. A ris­ing num­ber of homegrown fe­male golfers have made great progress in global com­pe­ti­tions dur­ing the past few years. Feng Shan­shan won the bronze medal at the Rio Olympics and more Chi­nese fe­male golfers have been present in the US LPGA. But there is still a long way for China to go in or­der to be­come a pow­er­house of golf.

Can China end South Korea’s dom­i­nance of the tour­na­ment any time soon?

We hope Chi­nese play­ers will make that hap­pen as soon as pos­si­ble. It is of great sig­nif­i­cance for Chi­nese golfers to claim ti­tles on their home cour­ses. We have a great chance, given that some Chi­nese fe­male golfers have al­ready shown their strength and abil­ity to win any tour­na­ments. Feng Shan­shan claimed four ti­tles around the world this year, in­clud­ing two on the US LPGA Tour. She has al­ready proved her strength in win­ning tro­phies.

We clearly un­der­stand the South Kore­ans have been very strong in this event. Their dom­i­nance over the past decade has al­ready proved their lead­ing po­si­tion in fe­male golf. But given time, China has an ex­cel­lent chance to break our jinx in the near fu­ture.

How do you see the fu­ture of the China Ladies Open and the China LPGA Tour?

We are def­i­nitely fac­ing some chal­lenges. From the very be­gin­ning of the China Ladies Open, we were de­ter­mined to de­velop into a his­tor­i­cal event — and it was the same for the China LPGA Tour. We are con­fi­dent of over­com­ing the dif­fi­cul­ties and mak­ing break­throughs.

Con­tact the writer at qi­uquan­lin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Li Hong, CEO of China LPGA Tour Ltd

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