The appearance of Feng Shanshan and Aditi Ashok at the Rio Olympics can only bode well for the future of golf – especially in China and India.
That’s the view of many international touring professionals who have recently participated on the China LPGA Tour.
With a 10-under-par 274 score in Brazil, Feng claimed the bronze medal. She was one stroke behind silver medallist Lydia Ko of New Zealand and six adrift of Korean Park In-bee, the gold medal winner.
Speaking during the Ladies European Tour’s China swing that included tournaments in Xiamen and Sanya, rising Indian star Ashok, who finished 41st in the 60-player field in Rio, said golf was reinstated into the Olympics roster after a 112-year absence to reflect and promote the popularity of the sport all over the world.
“It’s getting really big in China because ever since golf was in the Olympics we’ve got more tournaments in China,” said the 18-year-old Bangalore native who turned professional this year following a stellar amateur career. “With Shanshan winning a medal now it’s going to be much better for the other younger golfers who want to play golf as a profession.”
With China home to some 500 golf clubs and India about 200, Ashok said her Olympic appearance, like Feng’s in China, was a big deal back home and would help grow the sport.
“In India, it was big when I played in the Olympics. I wish I could have done better, finished maybe in the top-five or top-10. It was still good for golf in India and it’s a lot more popular for the younger kids in India and that’s good.”
Li Jiayun, who captured her second China LPGA Tour title with her victory at the Le Coq Sportif Beijing Ladies Classic in May, congratulated her fellow Guangdong native Feng on her Rio success, saying that the medal had huge implications for China golf.
“Everybody was encouraged and it gives us the feeling that our golf is getting better and better, and to approach maybe a higher level,” said Li, who captained China to a team silver medal at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou.
“It’s really good that we’re in the Olympics. It gets us out to a new audience and you can’t argue with the three medallists at the Olympics. They are probably the top three players in the world. So I’m really proud that the women took it seriously and I thought it was really good to watch.”