The Golf De­vel­op­ment Di­rec­tor looks into how the top 12 play­ers in Hong Kong fared in the 2017 sea­son.

Jonathan Wal­lett looks into how the top 12 play­ers in Hong Kong (six male and six fe­male that make up the Hong Kong Tal­ent Team) fared in the 2017 sea­son.

HK Golfer - - Contents - By Jonathan Wal­lett

2016 was a mem­o­rable year for Hong Kong due to the achieve­ments of Tif­fany Chan, no­tably qual­i­fy­ing and then putting on a fine dis­play at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Tif­fany has fur­ther ex­celled in gain­ing her play­ing priv­i­leges for the 2018 LPGA Tour by fin­ish­ing 2nd at the Qual­i­fy­ing School last month. But I be­lieve a golf pro­gram can­not base its suc­cess or fail­ure on one player so let’s

2017 was the best sea­son ever for the Men’s team. In Novem­ber last year, there was just one player in the World Top 1,000 Matthew Cheung at 891. Leon D’Souza had gone back­wards from WR 950 in 2015 and was sit­ting at 1,150 in Novem­ber 2016. Cur­rently, there are four male play­ers within the top

1,000 - a Hong Kong record - with Ben Wong lead­ing the way has im­proved from 1,640 to 376. Mimi Ho, who is in her last year of Col­lege Golf in the USA, ex­celled jump­ing from 550 to 341. Izzy Le­ung had some good re­sults and im­proved her rank­ing from 607 to 572. Young tal­ents Chloe Chan and Gin­nie Ding both pro­gressed solidly - Chloe from 1,455 to 1,124 and Gin­nie from 1,428 to 1,248. Michelle Cheung’s rank­ing stayed al­most the same, and the only player that re­gressed was Vivien Lee - but it’s im­por­tant to say that Viviene played a very lim­ited golf sched­ule due to school ex­ams and has now se­cured a Col­lege Schol­ar­ship in USA start­ing next sum­mer. And I’m sure 2018 will be a great year for Vivien.

Leon D’Souza was an­other who had a break­out year, with of course mem­o­ries fresh from the best Hong Kong per­for­mance in the UBS Hong Kong Open since it’s been a co-sanc­tioned Euro­pean Tour event. He went from 1,150 to 659 in the world rank­ing.

Ter­rence Ng en­tered the top 1,000 at WR 971 af­ter be­ing ranked 2,105 in Novem­ber 2016. Matthew Cheung showed sub­stan­tial im­prove­ment jump­ing from 891 to 671 with an in­ter­na­tional win in China. Yan­nick Ar­tigolle was an­other who had a sea­son to re­mem­ber climbing from 3,870 to 1,431. And then Taichi Kho who had a strong per­for­mance in some tour­na­ments in­clud­ing the PGA TOUR-China’s Clear­wa­ter Bay Open, where he fin­ished a cred­i­ble 24th. Taichi im­proved from 2,066 to 1,630 with a very bright fu­ture.

It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that these re­sults do not just hap­pen - for ev­ery player that goes down in the World Rank­ing an­other goes up - and ev­ery year the rank­ings are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly ex­ten­sive and more com­pet­i­tive due to the num­ber of elite play­ers in the world game. Golf As­so­ci­a­tions and Fed­er­a­tions are in­vest­ing large amounts of money into their pro­grams due to golf’s new­found Olympic sta­tus, which in many coun­tries has re­leased mas­sive amounts of gov­ern­ment fund­ing that were pre­vi­ously not avail­able to golf.

The com­mit­ment and ded­i­ca­tion of the Hong Kong

Play­ers are ex­tremely high, but at this level, it’s not just about working hard but more crit­i­cal SMART - that means working on the right things, at the

right time, in the right way. The in­for­ma­tion these play­ers re­ceive needs to be world class - af­ter all, they are com­pet­ing on the world stage against world ranked play­ers. In 2017, Hong Kong Play­ers re­ceived Biome­chan­ics sup­port from Golf Australia’s Ryan Lums­den, Psy­chol­ogy from Dr Brian Hem­mings who worked with the Eng­land Golf Pro­gram for 17 years and men­tored the likes of play­ers such as Danny Wil­lett, Ross Fisher and Chris Wood. We in­tro­duced reg­u­lar 1:1 ses­sions with Jonathan Wal­lett to­gether with on­line coach­ing for the play­ers in the Tal­ent Team. We’ve looked to make an ef­fort a more fo­cused with each player working to a spe­cific vi­sion with a

per­son­alised plan. There’s a long way to go, but the

first roots have been es­tab­lished. In 2018, we would like to start the ‘Hong Kong Ju­nior Tal­ent Team’ so that we can build a young ac­cel­er­a­tor group be­hind these front­line play­ers, who then get the same ac­cess to higher level of coach­ing ex­per­tise to op­ti­mise their op­por­tu­nity of suc­cess.

Then be­hind this front­line sup­port is the fan­tas­tic sup­port from the clubs – the Hong Kong Golf Club as ever is the stal­wart of the HKGA Player De­vel­op­ment Pro­gram of­fer­ing its course and fa­cil­i­ties free of charge on an ever-in­creas­ing ba­sis, which in­cluded 22 Player Ac­cess Mem­ber­ships. The Clear­wa­ter Bay Golf and Coun­try Club of­fered 2 Player Schol­ar­ships in 2017, and that will be ex­panded to 4 in 2018. Then the sup­port of the Player De­vel­op­ment Pro­gram Ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee that con­sists of Peter Downie, Dean Nel­son, Do­minic Boulet, Grant Gib­son and Paul Ri­ley is in­valu­able as it al­lows us to utilise these in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als col­lec­tive ex­pe­ri­ence to de­velop a strat­egy that gives Hong Kong golf a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage. The ad­mirable and un­wa­ver­ing sup­port from the Player Cap­tains Rob Keys and Joanne McKee who travel with the play­ers to many of the in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ments is crit­i­cal. Then the J/I com­mit­tee rep­re­sen­ta­tives who vol­un­teer their time to help progress Hong Kong Ju­nior golf. And at the cen­tre, the HKGA Ad­min­is­tra­tion Of­fice stew­arded by the HKGA Exco com­mit­tee.

It’s a col­lec­tive ef­fort, and these are ex­cit­ing times for Hong Kong golf pi­o­neered by Tif­fany’s achieve­ments. But I be­lieve there’s a lot more to come, and our chal­lenge with the Player De­vel­op­ment Pro­gram is to progress our sys­tems to build a Player Fun­nel from the ground up, so we can al­low as many Hong Kong young­sters to en­joy this won­der­ful game and a path­way to Univer­sity Schol­ar­ships. And for the play­ers who ex­cel, to al­low them the op­por­tu­nity to show­case Hong Kong on the World Stage, be­cause I be­lieve we have fu­ture PGA Tour, LPGA and Asian Tour win­ners in our midst.

Jonathan Wal­lett is Golf De­vel­op­ment Di­rec­tor of the HKGA.

Leon D’Souza had a break­out year, with of course the best Hong Kong per­for­mance in the UBS Hong Kong Open

Ben Wong Photo cour­tesy of USGA

Mimi Ho -Photo cour­tesy of Fresno State Women’s Golf Team

Izzy Le­ung (Left) & Michelle Cheung - Daniel Wong

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