HSBC Champions: Golf still an elitist pursuit in China

This story originally appeared on ESPN.com.

washburnespngolf11122005-2.jpgby DAN WASHBURN

Sheshan International Golf Club, site of this week’s HSBC Champions tournament, is about an hour west of Shanghai — if you are lucky. The only way to get there from downtown is a start-and-stop ride along the Hu Ning “Expressway,” an overcrowded stretch of asphalt that cuts through a grim part of the city you won’t find mentioned in any tour book. Most spectators are bussed in and bussed out and never set foot outside the picturesque private grounds. And if you were part of that crowd on Thursday and Friday, it would be easy to draw this conclusion: China loves Tiger Woods.

In a nation of 1.3 billion, crowds are not hard to come by. But on a golf course? That’s something new in a country with only an estimated 200,000 people who play the sport, a country that didn’t have a golf course until 1984. The gallery following Woods for the tournament’s first two rounds easily topped 1,000. Some guessed it was closer to 2,000. That’s more than four times the number of fans who followed Ernie Els during the final round of the BMW Asian Open here in May.

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HSBC Champions: Ian Poulter’s ‘funny looking pants’

This story originally appeared in the November 13, 2005 edition of the South China Morning Post (subscription only). by DAN WASHBURN While the hordes were hovering behind Tiger Woods as he practiced at the driving range Saturday morning, Ian Poulter worked on his putting a couple dozen meters away. There was no crowd surrounding the […]

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HSBC Champions: Tiger who?

This story originally appeared in the November 12, 2005 edition of the South China Morning Post (subscription only). by DAN WASHBURN While some 2,000 golf fans weathered rainstorms to track every move of the world’s best golfer Friday in the second round of the HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai, Yao Guang Mei swept leaves with […]

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HSBC Champions: Hope lies on Hu’s slender shoulders

This story originally appeared in the November 11, 2005 edition of the South China Morning Post (subscription only). by DAN WASHBURN The boy who has been dubbed the future of Chinese golf spends 11 months of the year in Florida, and he appears equally comfortable conducting interviews in English and Mandarin. Sixteen-year-old Hu Mu, the […]

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