This article first appeared in the Nov/Dec 2011 issue of World Gaming magazine.
Four of the world’s best golfers took some time to visit Macau recently. Once again we have the Venetian to thank for bringing the world’s best to this part of the world.
Sometimes companies claim to offer something that is not really the truth. It would have been easy for the Venetian to bring some second rate pro golfers to Macau and run a pro-am and some clinics. However, the Venetian Macau doesn’t believe in dealing with also-rans and recently gave Macau golf enthusiasts a sample of the world’s best.
The first big name on top of the list was Chinese number one ranked player Liang Wen-Chong. Liang and his Japanese and South Korean counterparts are responsible for putting Asia on the world’s golfing map. Joining him were three other pros from the world tour. Current world number two (and former world number one) Lee Westwood made the trip with fellow Englishman and Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter. As if that wasn’t enough young Northern Irish superstar and current US Open champion Rory McIlroy joined the group to make it a star-studded line up. McIlroy is considered by most as the hottest golfing prospect on the planet and the likeable young man is already being compared with the likes of Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus.
A select group of lucky young golfers from the Macau Golf Association got to meet their heroes for photos and a chat before attending a two-hour clinic held by coaches from the Butch Harmon golf school at Caesars Golf. The kids then got to see the golfing heavyweights strut their stuff over the 16th and 18th holes.
“This was so amazing!” said one young fan who was overwhelmed by the opportunity. “I absolutely love playing golf and getting to meet one of my heroes, Liang Wen-Chong, is a dream come true. I hope I can follow in his footsteps and become a professional golfer one day.”
The trip to Macau had a serious side as the four pros were competing in one of the strangest tournaments ever held. The 2011 Shui On Land China Golf Challenge was a unique 18-hole, par 73 golfing odyssey through China where the distance from the first tee to the 18th green was over 3,500 kilometers! The “fab four” of Westwood, McIlroy, Poulter and Liang played only 18 holes over a week, competing on just two or three holes at each of eight courses. Lee and Liang both finished the 18 holes in the lead at two-under-par but it was the Englishman who managed to overcome the strong Chinese challenge on a playoff hole. Poulter was close behind at one under par, while McIlroy found the going a little tougher to finish at six over.
“We’re always happy to host an exceptional sporting event like the China Golf Challenge,” offered Edward Tracy, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sands China Ltd. “Macao has been drawing international attention for its increasing array of entertainment offerings, and The Venetian Macao will continue to bring in high-profile and high-quality international events of world-class talent for the enjoyment of everyone in Macao.”
Macau was the final stop on the tour, which had begun in Shanghai. The tour will be part of an international television special to be broadcast in China and many other countries around the world. This is a great opportunity for China to show its amazing diversity as a tourist destination as well as showcasing how far Chinese golf has come in recent years.
We can all hope that there are many more world-class athletes planning on making the trip to this part of the world.