Teenage amateur Chinese golf star Guan Tainlang will join World No. 1 Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy in a Skills Challenge before the golfing mega-stars head out for The Match at Mission Hills which will be played on the Blackstone Course at Mission Hills Haikou on Hainan Island, China on 28 October.
Guan, who made US Masters history earlier in the year, competing as a 14 year old – and going on to make the cut – on one golf’s biggest stages, will join his idols in the Skills Challenge at the practice range as part of the warm-up session. The three players will demonstrate the precision and technique required to compete at the highest level by hitting targets placed strategically around the range in an effort to pass on some valuable tips to a group of aspiring young golfers at the Mission Hills Resort. In the meantime, Woods and McIlroy will conduct a clinic for the China National Junior Team which will create a wonderful experience for the Chinese juniors to develop their skills and provide tremendous inspirational.
“It’s pretty exciting for me to compete against Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy in a skills challenge before they play The Match at Mission Hills,” said Guan, a regular at Mission Hills’ various youth tournaments since 2008. “As the event is taking place in China, I hope to get some local support. I might have a chance because these are short targets – I’m glad it’s not a long-driving contest!
“It will be nice to see Tiger again because he has been very supportive, such as when we practised together at this year’s Masters. I haven’t played with Rory before, but we had a nice chat at the Masters and he also offered me some good advice. Both Tiger and Rory achieved a lot of success when they were teenagers, so I always appreciate it whenever they offer advice.”
Woods, recently named PGA Tour Player of the Year for the 11th time, was happy to accept the skills challenge and looked forward to re-uniting with Guan, who has become a golfing icon in China.
“The skills challenge with Guan should be fun,” said Woods, who has won 79 PGA Tour titles including five this year. “I’m really excited about his future and what he’s doing for the profile of golf in China, so it’s great he’ll be a part of The Match at Mission Hills. I know we’ll have a lot of junior golfers watching us that day and it’s great that this has been added into the mix.”
Mission Hills will also host a two-day tournament for juniors on October 26-27. The winners of the boys’ and girls’ events from 12-15 and 16-18 age categories will receive their prizes from Woods and McIlroy after The Match at Mission Hills. The lowest Gross Boys & Girls Winner will be invited to participate in the IJGT Tournament of Champions in Grand Cypress, Florida, USA.
The initiative marks another important milestone in Mission Hills’ ongoing contribution to the development of junior golf in the region. With tournaments staged including the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship, Jack Nicklaus Junior Championship, Faldo Series Asia, ANNIKA Invitational and Mission Hills Golf Series and Junior Tour, Mission Hills has witnessed a number of the country’s rising young stars come through its ranks.
Tenniel Chu, Vice Chairman of Mission Hills Group, said, “Junior golf development has always been a key component of our tournament schedule here at Mission Hills. We’ve hosted something in the region of 14,000 rounds of junior competition since 2006 .Whenever there is appropriate international platform, with golf legends presence, we are determined to include junior golf elements, as we view these as both golf and educational opportunities for young players across the world.
“The presence of Guan Tianlang at The Match at Mission Hills will be very exciting for spectators and viewers. I know people will look forward to seeing him compete in a skills challenge against Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, and I’m sure both pros will be keen to make sure they beat a 14-year-old, even if Guan is pretty exceptional for his age,” added Chu.
Mission Hills Group has also led the way in making golf more accessible in China by announcing at the start of the year that three of its courses would be free of charge to players under the age of 16, in a move widely praised by the international golfing community including the R&A. In keeping with one of the principle objectives of the tournament, The Match at Mission Hills will be free of charge for all spectators under the age of 18.
The Match at Mission Hills — will be contested over the acclaimed par-73 Blackstone Course designed by Brian Curley. The Blackstone is at 7,808 yards and littered with hazards, the course was named “Asia’s Best New Course” by US GOLF Magazine in 2010. It hosted the World Cup of Golf a year later, when the Irish team of McIlroy and Graeme McDowell finished tied fourth behind American champions Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland.
Mission Hills www.missionhillschina.com