Volkswagen Provides Drive for China’s Junior Programme

Pine Valley Golf Resort, Beijing, April 26: International carmaker Volkswagen has thrown its backing towards the China Golf Association (CGA) Junior Development Fund in a tune of US$15,000.

Volkswagen, who are title sponsoring the inaugural Volswagen Masters – China at Pine Valley Golf Club this week, is committed towards the grass roots development of golf in the Middle Kingdom and has invited two of China’s leading young amateurs, Xia Se and Hu Mu, to play in the inaugural US$300,000 event.

The renowned carmaker will also organise a Junior Challenge on Tuesday which will pit the two talented Chinese teenagers against one player each from Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei.

“Our commitment to golf in China is not only reflected on the Volkswagen Masters – China,” said Mr. Klaus-Dieter Schadewald, director of Volkswagen Brand.

“We are also very supportive of the CGA’s initiatives to promote golf amongst its young players and we believe our sponsorship of US$15,000 will assist in junior development. It is our wish to see China producing some great champions in the near future and hope that our vision to actively promote the Volkswagen Masters – China will provide the drive towards this goal.”

Six-time Major winner Nick Faldo of England, Danish star Thomas Bjorn, former Masters champion Ian Woosnam of Wales and seven-time European number one Colin Montgomerie of Scotland will join Asia’s leading players at the inaugural US$300,000 event. Chinese stalwart Zhang Lian-wei and upcoming star Liang Wen-chong will lead the home charge in the event sanctioned by the Asian Tour.

Hong Kong’s 15-year-old Jimmy Ko and Chinese Taipei’s wonderkid Lo Shih-kai, 14, will go head to head with the Chinese boys on Tuesday. The quartet will also line up alongside the stars in the Volkswagen Masters – China after receiving sponsor’s exemptions.

“Hopefully through their participation in a star-studded tournament, these young players will gain from the experience of playing alongside some of the world’s best players and realise what is required for them to excel in golf.

“Players like Nick Faldo, Thomas Bjorn, Ian Woosnam and Colin Montgomerie are top-class players because they have worked hard at the game and shown the dedication and talent required. I’m sure the four young amateurs will learn from these great players,” said Schadewald.

Hu Mu, 14, picked up the game in 1998 and immediately stamped his mark. He won the 15 to 18 years old age-group title at the China Junior Golf Open in 2001 when he was 11.

Following that success, he went to the United States in September, 2001 and trained at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy in Bradenton, Florida. He moved to Orlando in September, 2003 where he is now having his golf lessons from DLGA at Champions Gate.

Last year, Hu Mu was awarded by Nike Golf and the American Junior Golf Association a memberhip of the 2003 Nike Golf Junior All-star Team. Later that year, he won the Florida State Junior Championship with successive rounds of 68s.

Xia Se has won several junior championships in China but the one that he savoured the most was the Zhang Lian-wei Challenge title last August. Zhang, the first Chinese to play at the US Masters earlier this month, is looked upon by all aspiring golfers as a hero.

Jimmy is Hong Kong’s most promising talent, having won the Hong Kong Junior Championship for six consecutive years since 1998. This year, he added the Hong Kong Junior Schools title to his growing credentials.

Lo made history in Asian golf last year when he played in all four rounds of the Acer Taiwan Open on the Asian circuit, becoming the youngest player at the age of 14 years and 275 days to achieve the feat. He is also the youngest to play in a European Tour event after featuring in the 2002 Omega Hong Kong Open, courtesy of his victory in the Hong Kong Amateur Open earlier in the year. He was also named by Time Magazine as one of seven Asia’s most gifted children.