CHINESE GOLFERS HEADING FOR THE WORLD TOP TEN, SAYS EUROPEAN TOUR BOSS

With the continuing rapid rise in the popularity of golf in China, it won't be long before a Chinese home-grown player breaks into the top ten of the Official World Golf Ranking, according to European Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley.

The man at the helm of European golf was speaking during a visit to Beijing Huairou Topwin Golf and Country Club for the launch of the 2018 Volvo China Open.

"You only have to look at the development of players such as Haotong Li – or HT as we call him – to see how golf has grown here," said Pelley. "HT is very special. He has an infectious personality with great energy and he shows his emotion on the golf course, which you love to see.

"What he did this year when he won the Dubai Desert Classic and held off Rory McIlroy is a testament to his incredible skill. We love HT and we are proud that he is playing on our tour - and with the philosophy of the China Golf Association and President Zhang Xiaoning in developing the grass roots, I think that China golf will not only grow but we'll see a Chinese player in the world's top ten very soon."

During his visit, Pelley also took the time to discuss the state of golf in China and the growth of the Volvo China Open with President Zhang, Asian Tour Chief Executive Josh Burack and Sven De Smet, Chairman of the board of directors of the Volvo China Open. The RMB 20 million tournament is tri-sanctioned by the China Golf Association, the European Tour and the Asian Tour.

"I think it is critical that this tournament continues to grow," he added. "Volvo have been with the event for 24 years – the 25th anniversary is next year - which in itself is pretty amazing.

"We play in 37 different countries but if you don't have a flourishing event in China then you are not really a global tour. It's also very important to have relationships with partners like the Asian Tour and the CGA to ensure the success of the Volvo China Open and to grow those partnerships at the same time."

Pelley went on to add that it's Volvo's complete immersion and engagement with the sport that underlines the brand's position as one of the key sponsors in golf.

"In all tournaments you look to have a partner that not only puts the funding in but also gets engaged and Volvo has been such a wonderful supporter of not only the Volvo China Open but also the game of golf in general for so many years.

"They believe in the game, they love the game and they activate their sponsorship - that's one key reason why the event has flourished and grown to what it is today."

(2018-04-27)

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