From left to right: Ms. Li Hong; General Manager of China LPGA Tour; Mr. Deng Xiaogang, Vice Mayor of Haikou; Dr. Ken Chu, Chairman and CEO of Mission Hills Group; Mr. Zhang Xiaoning, Vice Chairman and General Secretary of CGA; Mr. Fan Xiaojun, Director-General, Department of Culture Radio, Television, Publication and Sports of Hainan Province; Ms Alexandra Armas, Executive Director of Ladies European Tour and Mr. Tenneil Chu, Vice Chairman of Mission Hills Group.
The inaugural World Ladies Championship (WLC) is set to debut on the Vintage Course at Mission Hills Hainan from 2 to 4 March 2012.
Incorporating ideas from the World Golf Championships and World Cup, the WLC adopts a new format compatible with the Olympics where golf will once again be showcased in 2016.
The China Golf Association (CGA), Mission Hills Group, China LPGA Tour and Ladies European Tour (LET) are committed to creating a world-class tournament. The WLC will concurrently feature three, 54-hole competitions: individual professional play, professional team play and individual amateur play. Co-sanctioned by the LET and China LPGA Tour, the WLC will award points to members of both Tours.
Offering a total prize purse of US$600,000, the WLC field will feature 108 elite players from the LET as well as the LPGA Tours of the U.S., Korea, Japan and China.
The host Vintage Course at Mission Hills is designed by Brain Curley and inspired by classic American golf courses built at the turn of the 20th century. It takes its cue from revered layouts such as the National Golf Links, Fishers Island, Maidstone, Chicago Golf Club and Garden City Golf Club..
Lee-Anne Pace, the South African money list leader in LET 2010, has recently confirmed her participation.
Pace said: “I feel really excited because it is a new tournament. I love playing in China and am really looking forward to playing at Mission Hills. I think my chances here are pretty good, especially in the team event. It’s exciting playing in a team format, but it’s also a pretty big tournament for us as individuals as well, so the focus will be on both.”
Representing China in the team competition, Feng Shanshan, the two-time Japan LPGA title-holder, currently ranked 13th in the world, will team up with Ye Liying, another winner on the same tour.
“The game format is very special. I feel that I’m no longer playing just for myself but for China. I’m very much looking forward to playing alongside Feng Shanshan,” stated Ye Liying.
As China’s leading golfer, Ye earned qualification for the LPGA playoffs in 2005, writing a new page in the country’s golf history in foreign competition.
On the birth of WLC, Ye commented: “For Chinese players, the WLC is undoubtedly great news. Without having to leave their homeland, local players are able to play in an international tournament, compete against top competitors and get valuable experience in important matches. ”
The launch of WLC has enjoyed support from different sections within the golf community. Conceived at the Presidents Cup in Melbourne in November 2011, the tournament not only meets the need in China for golf development but also provides a larger international, competitive stage. “We are hoping to witness the birth of a new national hero at the WLC,” said Ms. Li Hon, General Manager of China LPGA Tour.
“It is not only another international, competitive platform for our players but also a larger stage, allowing for more local challengers. I believe it will definitely ring in a new era for women’s golf in our homeland,” said Mr. Zhang Xiaoning, Director & Secretary General, China Golf Association.
“Mission Hills has always been devoted to popularizing and promoting golf through competitions. As the sport is once again approved as an Olympic event, we will proactively cooperate with different industry bodies to support the development of professional women’s golf and achieve breakthroughs in the women’s game,” added Tenniel Chu, Vice Chairman of Mission Hills.
Other than serving as the China LPGT’s first stop in 2012, WLC will also be a curtain-raiser for the women’s golf season in mainland China.
“The World Ladies Championship 2012 is an integral part of the LET calendar as well as an unprecedented women’s professional golf competition in China. As Mission Hills have already arranged numerous international tournaments with success, I believe the upcoming championship will certainly draw more attention to women’s golf and thus further popularise the sport on a global level” said Alexandra Armas, Executive Director of the LET.
The potential for the championships is huge. From the initial idea to the official launch, in no more than three months it has already drawn a significant number of sponsors. Brands which have confirmed their support include KOHLER, the official sponsor, and Maserati, the luxury sports car manufacturer.
About Mission Hills Group
Mission Hills Group (www.missionhillschina.com), owner and operator of Mission Hills Shenzhen, Mission Hills Dongguan and Mission Hills Hainan, is the pioneer in China’s fledgling hospitality, sports and leisure industry.
Mission Hills, recognized as the leading golf brand in the world and synonymous with high-end, luxurious residences of rare and exquisite design, has created two world-class leisure and wellness resorts. It has held more than 100 international tournaments, including the 1995 World Cup of Golf and the Tiger Woods China Challenge in 2001. In 2007, Mission Hills began its role as host of an unprecedented 12 editions of the Omega Mission Hills World Cup.
Mission Hills Hainan
Mission Hills Hainan lies in the volcanic region of exotic Hainan Island, China. The resort sets a new standard in leisure, recreation and wellness experiences. Nestled amid lush, green gardens, it caters to golf enthusiasts and features 10 acclaimed golf courses, each designed by American Brian Curley of Schmidt-Curley Design. Other state-of-the-art features include 518 elegantly designed guest rooms and suites, a three-story clubhouse, China’s first Hank Haney Golf Academy, meeting facilities, 12 world-class restaurants, a fully-equipped sports and recreation center, Hainan’s only aquatic theme park, therapeutic volcanic mineral springs, a spa oasis, and shopping arcade.
Mission Hills Hainan’s Blackstone Course hosted the inaugural Mission Hills Star Trophy in October 2010, a ground-breaking celebrity pro-am golf tournament for Asia, and the 56th World Cup of Golf in November 2011. A magnificent addition to Hainan’s tropical island paradise, Mission Hills Hainan is poised to become the island’s premier sanctuary, attracting visitors from around the globe.
Getting There: Mission Hills Hainan is 15 minutes from Haikou Meilan International Airport (HAK). Flights from major cities throughout Asia -- including Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore -- to Haikou are available.
About the Ladies European Tour:
The Ladies European Tour (LET) is Europe’s leading women’s professional golf tour and formed as the WPGA in 1978, before taking its current title in 2000. Over the last 32 years, the tour has developed into a truly international organisation. In 2012, the schedule features 24 tournaments in 19 different countries, with more than 300 members who represent over 30 different nationalities. For further information please go to www.ladieseuropeantour.com.
About China LPGA Tour Introduction
The China LPGA Tour is the only ladies professional golf tour in the country that is officially sanctioned by the China Golf Association and Multi-Ball Games Administrative Center of the General Administration of Sport.
With a mandate to provide a platform that will develop Chinese female players for careers as professional golfers, in addition to developing players for China’s Olympic team, the strategy of the China LPGA Tour has been developed over the past three years and is now successfully established in the global golf marketplace.
In addition to cooperating extensively with other international golf organizations, the Tour has gone from strength to strength with each passing year and is now recognized as one of the world’s fastest growing circuits.
Since its December 2008 establishment, the China LPGA Tour has developed quickly. In 2009, its inaugural season, six tournaments were held. This was followed by eight events in 2010, and 10 events the following year.
The China Ladies Open, the Tour’s flagship event with a US$250,000 prize purse, has also quickly developed into a tournament with a reputation as a cradle of future champions. Past winners of the tournament, a co-sponsored event with the Korea LPGA Tour, have gone on to star on tours in the U.S. and Europe, capturing Major championships in the process. At the same time, Chinese players developed on the China LPGA Tour have made great progress both at home and abroad.
Feng Shanshan and Ye Liying, in particular, have successfully made the transition to playing on tours overseas. Other Chinese players have made breakthroughs at the Asian Games and the World University Games, both of which are closely related to the development of the China LPGA Tour. With such success, the Tour is meeting its goal of developing top Chinese golf talent.
With its mission to promote the development of ladies golf in the country, the China LPGA Tour aims to organize more than 20 events annually before 2016 in developing future stars and helping China achieve a medal breakthrough at future Olympic Games.