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The China Golf Association (CGA) launched its Olympics DreamStart Team program at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions on Wednesday, securing the services of renowned swing coach Sean Foley to help the nation realize its golden dream.
An initial group of four golfers - Liu Yanwei, Liu Wenbo, Ye Lei, Du Mohan – will be the focus in CGA’s initial efforts to prepare its golfers for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. China’s leading female golfer, Shanshan Feng delivered a bronze medal for the country in Rio de Janeiro two years ago when golf made a welcome return into the Olympics program.
Foley, along with Holton Freeman and Brendan McLaughlinole, will provide coaching at the elite level which CGA President Zhang Ziaoning believes the Olympics DreamStart Team will uncover new talents to sustain its efforts in achieving more Olympic success in golf beyond 2020.
Foley, whose stable of golfers include 2018 FedExCup Champion and the WGC-HSBC Champions defending champion Justin Rose, is looking forward to playing a role in developing world-class golfers for China.
“I’ve been connected with a lot of the young Chinese golfers for the past five years. China is an incredible place - it has been since the Ming Dynasty - where the people are very hard working and very smart. Now that golf is more accepting here, the sky is the limit,” said Foley.
“I’m going to help the Chinese players with what they need help with, not just to understand their game but also to understand themselves. A lot of coaching that I do is going to be how they practice and getting them to understand the inner parts of their mind and hearts. I’m glad the CGA is moving forward with this project.”
Foley’s association with the CGA will see him working with the golfers in the United States, aside from the occasional trips to China. This week is his third visit to the Middle Kingdom in the past 17 months.
He envisions Chinese golfers becoming regular contenders on the PGA TOUR within the next five to 10 years. “That’s how it works as it escalates over time,” said Foley.
“With science, evidence, physics and bio-mechanics available now in the game, they’re going to swing completely different. They’ll be able to come and ask someone who’s coached on the PGA TOUR for 12 years and seen and done good things and bad things and learned from those mistakes. I hope to be a mentor to help them along.”
Ty Votaw, Executive Vice President, International, PGA TOUR, witnessed the announcement at Sheshan International Golf Club which is hosting Asia’s lone World Golf Championships event and richest tournament in the region.
He said: “We congratulate the CGA on this historic announcement and their hard work in helping to grow golf across China. Their leadership and vision in helping young athletes to become Olympic champions is admirable and we wish them every success.
“It’s exactly what we thought would happen when we sought for golf’s inclusion into the Olympic Games. Olympic committees and governments are going to create more opportunities and greater resources for golf now that it’s an Olympic sport and today’s announcement is an example of that where you see a developing golf nation like China increasing their level of resources to develop young golfers.”
The PGA TOUR Series-China will continue to play a key role in developing young Chinese golfers and giving them a place to hone their craft. After a one-year lapse, the PGA TOUR Series-China returned in 2018 for its fourth season with 14 tournaments offering RMB 21.5 million. The top-five players earned exemptions into the Web.com Tour in 2019: Callum Tarren (England), Charlie Saxon (United States), Nick Voke (New Zealand), Yuwa Kosaihira (Japan) and Todd Baek (Korea).
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