Defending champion Xander Schauffele joined World Number Two Rory McIlroy, former World Number One Justin Rose, Ryder Cup legend Ian Poulter and local hero Li Haotong to surprise some of China’s most promising young players – stars of the CGA-HSBC China Junior Golf Program – at the driving range at WGC-HSBC Champions.
Celebrating 15 years of world-class golf in Shanghai, the event has brought some of the game’s biggest stars to China and the ‘best golf lessons ever’ were given to five junior players as a reward for showing outstanding progress during the 2019 season of the junior program.
The unique range clinic served as the ideal warm-up for later in the week, when the aforementioned stars tackle the testing Sheshan International Golf Club at the final World Golf Championships event on the 2019 Race to Dubai.
“When the first HSBC-Champions took place in 2005 I was just nine years old. In that time, it has been incredible to be part of a huge rise in interest in golf in China,” said Li, a former graduate of the CGA-HSBC China Junior Golf Program. “I am extremely proud to see the growth of the game I love and to see so many kids coming through. It was a privilege to connect with some of the future stars of Chinese golf today and hopefully help set them off on their own golfing journeys.”
McIlroy, who has finished in the top five on three previous occasions, added: “Whenever you play WGC-HSBC Champions you feel like the eyes of the entire country are on you. It’s great to compete in front of this growing and energetic audience of golf fans who are extremely knowledgeable and committed to the game. All the work that has been done to support golf in the country is certainly paying off, both in the growth of the fanbase and the talented young golfers we met today.”
Schauffele, an American whose Chinese-speaking mother witnessed his victory in Shanghai last year, said: “WGC-HSBC Champions will always hold a special place in my heart having won last year in front of my family. It’s great to be back and to be able to meet some of these young Chinese stars. Thanks to the work done to encourage the game here in China there is now a really strong pool of talented players across the country and I’m sure that some of the kids I met today will be winning global tournaments before we know it.”
Pictured top: Li Haotong, Justin Rose, Xander Schauffele, Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter with members of the CGA-HSBC China Junior Golf Program (Getty Images)
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