The ceremonious planting of a tree and driving-in took place on the 10th tee of Yalong Bay Golf Course in Hainan, China, on Wednesday morning, to mark the opening of the Sanya Ladies Open.
A large number of professional and amateur golfers gathered alongside tournament and government officials at 7.30am to witness the ceremony before the Pro Am.
Ladies European Tour Executive Director Alexandra Armas, Ladies Asian Golf Tour President Koitchi Kato and China LPGA Tour Tournament Director Chris Feng, planted the tree to symbolise international harmony and growth of the tournament, along with two officials from Hainan Municipal Government, a representative from Sanya and the title sponsor, New China Trust.
The defending champion Frances Bondad then hit a long drive down the middle of the fairway in synchronization with her amateur team, followed by Chinese professionals Yang Hongmei and Lin Xiyu to mark the tournament opening.
The kick-off ceremony was attended by leaders such as Ladies European Tour Executive Director Alexandra Armas, the Ladies Asian Golf Tour President Koichi Kato, Chris Feng from the China LPGA; Mr Wang Yangjun, Deputy Secretary General of Hainan Municipal Government; Mr Zhou Guoming, Deputy Secretary General of Sanya City Government; Mr Huang Zhiqiang, Vice Chairman of Sanya City and Liao Minsheng, Director General of the department of culture radio television publication of Sanya City; Mr Weng Xianding, President of New China Trust; Mr Chen Yaxiong, Vice Chairman of Hainan Golf Association and Managing Director of Yalong Bay Golf Club; Mr Xu Guorong, CEO of Yalong Bay Development Company and Mr Song Dizhong, Director of Sales of official apparel Pro-Simon.
Mr Zhou Guoming, Deputy Secretary General on behalf of the Government of Sanya, made a speech welcoming players and friends from around the world.
"This competition is the third woman’s event to be held in Sanya, which has welcomed golf enthusiasts from all over the world,” Zhou said, through translation.
“Sanya City Government fully supports golf and we provide various facilities to assist this competition as much as possible, hoping to make this into a major international golf tournament alongside the traditional events held in Sanya.
“Through this competition, we hope that the participating international players and guests are able to experience the unique charm of Sanya, with its tropical coast and beauty and through the passion of women's golf, have a good time here."
To commemorate the third edition of the tournament and the significance of the tournament to Sanya, a Solanum Melongola tree was planted behind the 10th tee, symbolising the progressive development of the international competition.
From 2010-2012, the tournament has been tri-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour, Ladies Asian Golf Tour and China LPGA Tour. This year the tournament field features 114 players from 23 different countries who will be playing for a total purse of €250,000.
A number of well-known names from the LET will tee up in the three-round event starting Friday including current ISPS Handa Order of Merit leader Carlota Ciganda from Spain, Laura Davies of England, recent two-time champion Stacey Keating of Australia and Germany’s Caroline Masson.
Of the 35 players from the China LPGA Tour, Yang Hongmei, Lin Xiyu, Lu Yuexia and national team amateur Shi Yuting, 13, will make debut appearances.
Meanwhile, Thailand’s Patcharajutar Kongkraphan, Lin Tzu Chi, Tavee Tiffany and Numa Gulyanamitta are expected to be amongst the most competitive players from the LAGT.
The Sanya Ladies Open is taking place for the third straight year at Yalong Bay Golf Course and the Sanya City Government-funded tournament will be played over 54 holes, with the top 60 professionals and ties playing the final round.
Authorised by the General Administration of Sport of China, the event is tri-sanctioned by the CGA, LET and LAGT. The official organiser is the Multi-ball Games Administrative Center of General Administration of Sport, Sanya Municipal Government and China Golf Association. The title Sponsor is Sanya Municipal Government and co-Sponsor is New China Trust. Promoted by the Department of Culture Radio Television Publication of Sanya City and Yalong Bay Golf Club, the event is co-organised by China Everbright Holdings and New China Trust.