Golfers take aim at growing the sport with star-studded badminton showdown
October 23, 2018
Ahead of this week’s WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, title partner HSBC today brought together five of the star-studded field for a unique Europe vs USA re-match aimed at helping grow the game in China.
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The event saw new World Number One Brooks Koepka, World Number Two Dustin Johnson, defending champion and World Number Three Justin Rose, World Number Five Rory McIlroy and World Number Six Francesco Molinari try their hand at one of China’s biggest sports.
They swapped their drivers for badminton racquets on a specially constructed court outside the Chamber of Commerce Shanghai, in an event designed to appeal to Chinese fans and bring to life the ever-closer connection between Chinese culture and world-class golf. Just weeks after all six faced off at Le Golf National, it was also another chance to compete for bragging rights in the battle of Europe vs USA.
The event is part of title partner HSBC’s efforts to support the growth of golf in Asia through its flagship partnership with the World Golf Championships. When HSBC first brought HSBC Champions to Shanghai in 2005, golf in Asia was in its infancy, with a limited number of golf fans, no playing heritage and no significant event. Since then the partnership between HSBC and the WGC has allowed the sport to thrive in the region, with WGC-HSBC Champions earning the reputation of ‘Asia’s Major’ due to the high-quality golf on show and the impressive crowds of Chinese golf fans.
Hosting the latest re-match between Europe and the USA on a badminton court is part of HSBC’s mission to grow the sport in the region. Badminton is one of the most popular sports in China and so giving these iconic golfers the chance to try the sport is designed to bring even more Chinese fans into contact with the game of golf. The event featured a coaching session given by former badminton World Champion Wang Lin, a star in China who was able to put the golf pro’s through their paces. HSBC is also partner of the Badminton World Federation.
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Peter Wong, Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive of The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, said at the event: “We are incredibly proud of our partnership with the World Golf Championship, and how the WGC-HSBC Champions has grown since 2009 to become ‘Asia’s Major’. Golf in Asia is thriving, with talented players breaking onto out on the world stage and more fans following the sport. Bringing the best players in the world to Shanghai has been a huge part of this development. As we continue to push the growth agenda for Chinese golf, what better way to help Chinese fans connect with some of the best players in the world than to have them try their hands at badminton, a hugely popular sport in China.”
World Number One and this years US Open and PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka added: “It was great fun to swap the golf club for the badminton racquet and have a hit at an incredible location in front of the Chamber of Commerce Shanghai. It started off as a bit of fun, but when we got going there was definitely some friendly competition between the two sides.”
Speaking at the launch, World Number Two Dustin Johnson said: “I have played at the WGC-HSBC Champions for several years now, and every year the tournament seems to get better. The local fans are more engaged, more knowledgeable and clearly more into the game of golf. With the help of the Chamber of Commerce Shanghai, great events such as this will allow us continue to keep growing the sport in this part of the world.”
World Number Three Justin Rose said: “It was an incredible experience to lift the Old Tom Morris Cup in Shanghai last year and I can’t wait to tee off again to defend the trophy. The amazing field that descends on Shanghai each October certainly justifies the tournament’s unofficial title as Asia’s Major and I’m looking forward to what will be a really challenging few days.”
World Number Five Rory McIlroy said: “It is really important for the future of golf that the sport continues to reach out to new markets and new fans all over the world. Events like this one, and the work being done generally by HSBC in Asian golf, do a tremendous job at helping secure the long-term prosperity of golf, so I was happy to be a part of today’s event.”
The Open Championship winner and current World Number Six Francesco Molinari said: “It was great to once again line-up alongside some of my European teammates, this time on a badminton court rather than a golf course. What took place at Le Golf National was undoubtedly one of the highlights of my professional life.”
Competing for an increased prize fund of US $10 million at this year’s WGC-HSBC Champions, the star-studded field will be the strongest gathered in Asia this year. Organisers have also planned significant enhancements to every aspect of the spectator experience for this year’s event including adding virtual reality technology to the new Lakeside area boasting a spectator viewing platform with premium sightlines of the second and ninth greens.