Sports / Golf

Baby steps for nation in its golf infancy

By Associated Press in Shanghai (China Daily) Updated: 2014-11-15 06:48

Baby steps for nation in its golf infancy

Li Haotong tees off in this year’s PGA Tour China Series Cadillac Open. PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Baby steps

"It's a good opportunity," Li said of PGA Tour China. "If not for the PGA competition, I would not be able to have a chance to go to the US to play."

Li believes he is technically sound enough to compete. What he lacks is experience.

And that was the whole idea of the fledgling tour in China.

"We're seeing some good players, and some wins by Chinese players," said Paul Johnson, the PGA Tour's senior vice-president of international business affairs. "That's the start of the process. They have to play a lot and win tournaments. We've been encouraged by the early success. That said, we have a very long-term view. Our hope is to have one or two players come through early. And if it doesn't happen in the short term, we stay with the plan.

"The talent is there," Johnson said. "It's getting the competitive experience."

The one setback on PGA Tour China was the other Chinese winner—Zhang Xinjun, whom the CGA banned for six months after he was disqualified for the second time for turning in an incorrect scorecard. He is leading the money list on the PGA Tour China, though the ban means Zhang cannot play on any tour until the middle of March. The PGA Tour will not comment on whether it plans its own sanction.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem described it as an"individual thing"and said the topic did not come up in two days of meetings with Chinese golf officials.

Finchem said the goal was to develop elite players and the first gauge of true progress could come next year if Zhang and Li get to the Tour.

"Next year will be really good because it will be a combination of seeing how the guys who qualify for the do and then we've got some growth going on here,"said Finchem, who expects an additional three events on the 2015 China schedule."We're not looking to change the world overnight. It's a long-term project."

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