An outstanding victory by China’s Haotong Li’s at the Volvo China Open momentously marks the first European Tour title for a CGA-HSBC China Junior Golf Program graduate and adds further momentum behind Asia as a growing force in the game.
It is a gratifying and timely milestone for HSBC who place such importance on their global grassroots junior programs which underpin all their flagship events. The financial institution has supported junior golf in China for over nine years and recently renewed their partnership with the China Golf Association, ensuring the future of the program through to 2020.
For Li, victory represents a career breakthrough win. His best performances until today saw him lose out in a play-off at the Shenzhen International last year and finish a creditable tied seventh in ‘Asia’s Major’ at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai in November.
C Global Head of Sponsorship and Events at HSBC said: “Haotong Li’s win clearly demonstrates just how far golf in China has come over the last decade and what an exciting future the game has. It’s an incredible story of human ambition and shows exactly why HSBC supports golf and why our junior programs are so important to our sponsorships around the world. A win for any golfer in their home nation is inspiring but for this to happen in China for a 20 year old is really special.”
“For HSBC he is proudly one of our own. Haotong was first inspired into the game as a youngster by attending our tournament, HSBC Champions in Sheshan and now he has the potential to inspire a new generation. He graduated through the ranks of the CGA-HSBC Junior Golf Program, a development program we started nine years ago with the ambition of supporting future champions. Today we have realised that ambition. We saw glimpses of his potential at WGC-HSBC Champions last year and now he’s advanced into the winner’s circle and we’re delighted for him. For Li and golf in China this is only the start. The CGA-HSBC Junior Golf Program offers a proven pathway to the very top of the game and I’ve no doubt with this victory many more will be inspired to make that journey.”
The joint initiative – which is the only officially sanctioned junior golf program in China – has earned a reputation as a veritable production line for the brightest young talent in China. Last month saw yet another of its graduates, 18-year-old Jin Cheng, play in the Masters following in the footsteps of fellow CGA-HSBC China Junior Golf Program graduate Guan Tianlang who, at the age of 14, took the golfing world by storm in 2013 when he became the youngest ever golfer to make the cut at a major at the Masters.
The CGA-HSBC Junior Golf Program was launched by the China Golf Association and HSBC in 2007 and over the past decade the program has put golf clubs in the hands of more than 80,000 children and provided a platform for young, elite talent. Key features of the program include the HSBC National Junior Golf Championship, the HSBC China Junior Golf Open, the HSBC Junior Golf Winter/Summer Camp and the HSBC School Golf Training Program. Supervised by a development committee that has representatives from HSBC, the CGA, IMG and The R&A, it has been a driving force behind the dramatic growth of golf in China.
In addition to Jin Cheng and Guan Tianlang, other notable graduates include Ye Wo-cheng who became the youngest player in European Tour history when he lined up at the 2013 Volvo China Open and Andy Zhang, who qualified for the US Open at the age of 14.
Other success stories of the program include Lin Xiyu, one of the first ever participants and now a seed on the LPGA Tour hoping to represent China at Rio 2016, and Dou Zecheng who is now on the men’s pro circuit.
For more details on HSBC’s golf activities, visit www.hsbcgolf.com