With legends from golf, entertainment and sport in attendance at the star-studded extravaganza, Grand Slam Champion Gary Player, Oscar winner Michael Douglas, and NBA Hall of Famers Allen Iverson and Yao Ming, the World Celebrity Pro-Am at Mission Hills in China grabbed the attention of sports fans around the world.
Player, a regular at the Mission Hills event played alongside Douglas and Chinese filmmaker Feng Xiaogang.
“What a great event to help spread golf on a global stage,” exclaimed Player. “We have stars from sports and entertainment representing different cultures all over the world. We appreciate the Chu family’s commitment to this event and bringing us all together. I love golf and competing, it keeps me young, and it keeps me energized.”
“This was a treat, playing with my friend Gary Player, what they have done with the golf course here, this is just a stunning job,” said Michael Douglas.
Maybe the highlight of the tournament came from a simple picture of the 5’6 golf legend standing next to the 7’6 Yao Ming, who recently was inducted into the National Basketball Association’s Hall of Fame in the United States. The picture circulated on news outlets throughout the world. As for what the two were discussing, that’s up for debate.
Two-time Major Champion O’Meara described his admiration for fellow Golf Hall of Famer Gary Player. “Gary and I were sharing stories on Ben Hogan. I told him how much I appreciate what Gary Player has meant to me in my life and to the game,” said O’Meara of the 18-time Major winner. “It’s always great to be here in China and I thank the Chu family for their great hospitality.”
At the closing ceremony, Tenniel Chu of Mission Hills Group declared the fourth edition of the World Celebrity Pro-Am as the “biggest and best” yet. “Our common purpose this week was to bring the world to China; and China to the world through golf,” said the Vice-Chairman.
Chu was also upbeat about the legacy of the tournament which was screened to more than 200 countries worldwide: “Whether it was the fans here at Mission Hills Haikou, or those watching at home, I hope they are inspired to take up golf, because that is what the World Celebrity Pro-Am is all about, bringing golf to a new audience and allowing everyone to share in this great game.”
A total of nine professional golfers were competing over two rounds of individual stable ford for the $1 million Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am – with $250,000 going to the winner, local favorite Li Hao-tong of China.
This year’s impressive line-up of golfing greats also included John Daly, Rich Beem, Paula Creamer, Suzann Pettersen, Anna Nordqvist and Natalie Gulbis – all Major winners.
Hollywood legends Douglas and Jeremy Renner were part of a galaxy of stars playing alongside the elite golfers in a separate bid for the celebrity title, which was won by Chinese actor Man Wen-jun.
Icons from the world of sport included Boris Becker, Iverson and another basketball legend, Yao Ming of China. They were joined by a host of footballing icons which also included Manchester United stars Paul Scholes, Lee Sharpe and David May.
The biennial Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am was established in 2010 as Asia’s first and only pro-celebrity golf tournament. This sporting and entertainment extravaganza – which reaches more than 26 television channels in Greater China and over 200 countries worldwide – aims to popularize golf in China whilst also promoting Hainan Island as a tourist destination and supporting local charities. Proceeds are being donated to The Nature Conservancy and the Hainan United Youth Association.
Picture courtesy of Getty Images
Information courtesy of Mission Hills