While the Volvo China Open didn't sport the greatest field in the tour's history, a tip of the cap to HSBC for getting to see the first European Tour winner from its CGA-HSBC China Junior Program, the only sanctioned program for aspiring players in the country currently hostile to the game.
"Grow the game" has become a tired and obnoxious phrase wheeled out way too often in the name of trying to justify greed or pandering, but when the results are tangible like this, I say let 'em pat themselves on the back. Especially after Haotong Li contended at last fall's WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai and looks to be headed toward big things.
From Giles Morgan, HSBC's man in golf:
“Haotong Li’s win clearly demonstrates just how far golf in China has come over the last decade and what an exciting future the game has. It’s an incredible story of human ambition and shows exactly why HSBC supports golf and why our junior programs are so important to our sponsorships around the world. A win for any golfer in their home nation is inspiring but for this to happen in China for a 20 year old is really special.”
“For HSBC he is proudly one of our own. Haotong was first inspired into the game as a youngster by attending our tournament, HSBC Champions in Sheshan and now he has the potential to inspire a new generation. He graduated through the ranks of the CGA-HSBC Junior Golf Program, a development program we started nine years ago with the ambition of supporting future champions. Today we have realised that ambition. We saw glimpses of his potential at WGC-HSBC Champions last year and now he’s advanced into the winner’s circle and we’re delighted for him. For Li and golf in China this is only the start. The CGA-HSBC Junior Golf Program offers a proven pathway to the very top of the game and I’ve no doubt with this victory many more will be inspired to make that journey.”
As Will Gray notes at GolfChannel.com, with this win Li likely vaults into the top place for one of China's male Olympic golf exemptions.
Full highlights from his win: