As the golfing world turns its eyes to the Masters in the US, international golf sponsor HSBC has reaffirmed its commitment to golf in China by extending its sponsorship of the CGA-HSBC China Junior Golf Program for another five years (2016-2020).
Now in its tenth year, 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.
Indeed, as officials from the China Golf Association (CGA), HSBC and IMG hosted a press conference in Shenzhen to announce the news, yet another of its graduates, 18-year-old Jin Cheng, was preparing to take on the world’s best golfers at the Masters taking place at Augusta National Club (7 – 10 April 2016).
Cheng follows 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. There are many more talented youngsters coming through the ranks and, as world golf prepares to return to the Olympics at Rio 2016, the future looks bright for Chinese golf.
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, Andy Zhang, who qualified for the US Open at the age of 14, and 20-year-old Haotong Li who performed so well at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai last year.
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.
Giles Morgan, Global Head of Sponsorship and Events at HSBC, commented: “It is important to us to extend our commitment to Chinese golf and today’s announcement complements our recent five year renewal of our flagship World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions.
“As a long-standing sponsor of golf, HSBC is committed to growing the game at every level and opening up the world of golf. The CGA-HSBC Junior Golf Program is a development initiative we started a decade ago alongside our sponsorship of the World Golf Championships–HSBC Champions. Seeing so many youngsters graduate through the ranks to take their place on the world stage is really special and demonstrates exactly why HSBC supports golf and why our junior initiatives are so important. Jin Cheng’s presence in the Masters this week is further evidence of China as the unstoppable force in world golf.”
Jin Hongwen, deputy minister of No.1 department of sports from Multi-ball Games Administrative Center of the General Administration of Sport of China, also joined the celebrations, saying: “This is a great example of co-operation between the CGA and HSBC, and with the support of their partners, they have achieved a lot in ten years.
“More than 80,000 juniors have been introduced to golf through the HSBC School Golf Training Program in around 100 middle and primary schools and the winter/summer camps.
“An elite force of young golfers has developed through high level tournaments such as the HSBC National Junior Golf Championship, HSBC National Junior Golf Team Championship and HSBC China Junior Golf Open. We have also established the China National Junior Golf Team which has progressed through intensive training, tournaments in China/abroad and pro tournaments. The three type of programs above constitute the CGA-HSBC China Junior Golf Program, a system of promotion, selection and improvement.
“Today I am delighted to announce the further co-operation between CGA and HSBC for the junior golf development in China. We believe more juniors from the Program will play in the Olympics. Golf in China will be strong if the juniors are strong.”
HSBC’s golf activities www.hsbcgolf.com