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Golf set for China boom after Olympic inclusion

Shanshan believes country will embrace the sport in bid to overhaul Americans

Gulf News

Dubai: Golf’s re-introduction to the Olympic Games schedule will result in a change of attitude towards the sport in China, according to LPGA Championship winner Shanshan Feng.

With China finishing second to the USA in the overall medal haul at the London 2012 Games, the country will seek any improvement they can to reverse that deficit come Rio 2016. That means golf, added to the events list for 2016 after what will be a 112-year hiatus, could be set to blossom in the People’s Republic.

World No. 6, Shanshan, who enters the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters at Emirates Golf Club this week as the top-ranked player and only her country’s second Major winner in all sports since 2012 women’s tennis French Open winner Li Na, said: “I would say in China we focus more on the sports that are in the Olympics and it’s just got back in the Olympics starting from 2016.

“Now we have the chance to prove the Chinese can be good at golf and we can get medals in golf. That way if we do, we can show the Chinese people and maybe they can change their attitudes.

“Right now, I would say the image of golf in China is a little negative because it’s expensive and a game of rich people, which uses up a lot of land. So we have to show them it’s worth it.

“Those sports which don’t require a lot of money and that you can just join in are currently very popular in China. But golf is picking and there are a lot more people starting to play — I think more people are trying to build courses – and I believe one day golf is going to be really popular.

“I think Asians are really good at these small controlling things. We see the Koreans and the Japanese doing so well and I believe the Chinese can too.”

Shanshan, who was unveiled as an Omega watches brand ambassador pre-tournament, added: “I really want to go to the Olympics in 2016. As a sportsperson, I think the Olympics is the highest spectacle of sport’s that all sportspeople have to attend.

“I know it’s only two spots from every country but I really want to play. I’ll try my best to be in it, but if I see another two girls play even better than me, and they get picked instead, I’ll be happy because it means that Chinese golf is growing.”