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Triumphs Over

Major Champion Chinese golfer Li Hao-tong delighted his home crowds and collected one of the biggest cheques of his career by holding off a host of Major champions to win the 2016 Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am on the tropical island of Hainan 54




World Golf Hall of Famer Mark O'meara

Former Manchester United star Lee Sharp & Swede Anna Nordvqist

Ex-football idol Dwight Yorke & champion Li Hao-tong

Gary Player in action 21-year-old Li, who won the European Tour’s Volvo China Open earlier this year, birdied the final hole of the par-72 Blackstone Course at Mission Hills Haikou to shoot consecutive 69s and finish on 78 stableford points, one ahead of 2009 Women’s PGA Champion Anna Nordqvist of Sweden. Americans Mark O’Meara, Paula Creamer and overnight leader Rich Beem, all Major winners, were a further point back in a tie for third. O’Meara described his admiration for fellow Golf Hall of Famer Gary Player. “Gary and I were sharing stories on Mr [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 nine-time Major winner. A total of nine professional golfers were competing over two rounds of individual stableford for the US$ 1 million Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am – with Li picking up the winner’s prize of US$250,000. Now in its fourth edition, this year’s impressive line-up of golfing greats also included Gary Player, John Daly, Suzann Pettersen and Natalie Gulbis. Hollywood legends Michael Douglas and Jeremy Renner were among a galaxy of stars playing alongside the elite golfers in a separate bid for the celebrity title, won by Chinese actor Man Wenjun. Icons from the world of sport include three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker and basketball Hall of Famers Allen Iverson and Yao Ming. They were joined by a host of footballing heroes, including Manchester United stars Paul Scholes, Dwight Yorke, Lee Sharpe and David May and Liverpool greats Robbie Fowler, Luis Garcia and Gary McAllister. Oscar winner Michael Douglas, whose movie-star wife Catherine Zeta-Jones competed in the 2010 edition, 56


commented: “This was a treat, what they have done with the golf course here, this is just a stunning job.” Ex-football idol Dwight Yorke said: “For a golf addict like me to come and play at Mission Hills, it was like a dream come true.” Yorke’s former teammate at Manchester United Paul Scholes added: “I was nervous as hell out there.  It gets the adrenalin going again and gives you that nervous energy that you miss after [retiring from] football.  To have that back, only for a couple of days, was great.”   Another famous footballer Luis Garcia was inspired to play more golf with past Liverpool teammates Robbie Fowler and Gary McAllister, who were also competing at Mission Hills: “I enjoyed this very much and would love to come back.  I’m pretty new to golf but will be spending more time in England so hope to play again with Robbie and Gary.” Six-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker described his respect for his playing partner, two-time Major champion Mark O’Meara. “You think you know how to play golf then you play with a legend and it puts golf into perspective,” said Becker, who coaches world number one tennis player Novak Djokovic.  “It’s been a great two days and a great experience for me.” 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 popularise 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. HKGOLFER.COM

LPGA star Natalie Gulbis

LPGA star Suzann Pettersen

Liverpool FC legend Robbie Fowler & John Daly HKGOLFER.COM