After a breathless few weeks during which the entire sporting world has been talking about Chinese football (with yours truly quoted by AFP three times, FT twice, El Pais, Hicimos, Vice Sports and interviewed by CCTV, BBC and Al Jazeera among others), let’s take a look at a few stories that could be cropping up over the next 12 months…
23-year-old Alexander Levy became the 20th different winner in 20 years of the Volvo China Open on Sunday, thanks in large part to his scorching 10-under-par round of 62 on Friday. It was his first career title and he comfortably held off challenges from the likes of Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter and Francesco Molinari.
In a dramatic final day in Shanghai, Dustin Johnson clinched the HSBC Champions title at Sheshan International Golf Club. He began and ended the day with a three-shot cushion that might have looked comfortable, but in truth was anything but. After Johnson three-putted the 1st for bogey, he saw playing partner Ian Poulter draw level after birdies at 1 and 2, and then Graeme McDowell – the other member of the final group – also share the lead after opening with three birdies.
To say scores were low on Saturday at the HSBC Champions at the Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai is something of an understatement. The top five players of the day combined for a total of 41-under-par. Five players. Leading the way was Martin Kaymer, now in 7th, who shot ten birdies for a course record of 62 – beating the mark of 63 he tied two years ago while winning this tournament. Next came Ian Poulter with a 63 (2nd), and Graeme McDowell with a 64 (3rd), and so on…
Apologies if you read the headline and were expecting a story about a dance producer on the rampage in a glitzy club. Marginally less rock and roll – but only by a whisker – was Dustin Johnson’s 9-under-par round of 63 on Friday at the HSBC Champions that took him to 12-under, five shots clear of Bubba Watson, Boo Weekley and first round leader Rory McIlroy. DJ’s round was four shots better than anyone else and included ten birdies and a lone bogey on the 10th.
Check out this recent European Tour video from Shanghai where the players have to transfer as many golf balls as they can from one bucket to another in 60 seconds – using chopsticks.
Miguel-Angel Jimenez, cigar in hand of course, was a surprise winner with 22, tying China’s Liang Wenchong. The results:
The kids have been getting all the attention recently – and not just the teens, but those in single digits – though it will take a good few years before any of them progress to the pro ranks. But it’s important to have figures for China’s next generation of golfers to look up to, targets whose records they want to beat, and Wu Ashun – at 28, still young in golfing terms – will today become just the second Chinese male ever to play in the Open Championship.
Sina Weibo welcomes Manchester United
Manchester United finally – finally – have an official Sina Weibo page here after a shocking lack of presence here, filled largely by fan pages. For years, the powers that be at Old Trafford were arrogant enough to think that everyone would simply go to the team’s homepage, and the club has now also launched a Twitter page for the first time (@ManUtd). The site now has more than 100,000 followers (though always take Sina Weibo numbers with a sack of salt), as compared to close to four times that amount on Twitter. Nothing of particular note is up yet on the Weibo site – so far just a few pictures and headlines from their Asian Tour – but at least it’s a step in the right direction in trying to connect with Chinese fans.
This kid is impressive. OK, so he’s not the 12-year-old, he’s not the 14-year-old, he’s not even the 15-year-old, but 16-year-old Chinese golfer Dou Zecheng followed up his 2-under-par round of 70 on Thursday with an even-par 72 on Friday to make the cut at the Volvo China Open with two shots to spare. Dou sits tied for 36th place in a field that has just been reduced from 156 to 68.
Some of those who didn’t make the cut: Spain’s Alvaro Quiros, a six-time winner on the European Tour, Ryder Cup legend Paul McGinley and 29 of the 32 Chinese players in the field (and Dou is currently ahead of both of the other Chinese who did make the cut, Huang Wenyi and Liang Wenchong).
He’s still ten shots off the lead, after Finland’s Mikko Ilonen shot a course record 63, but Dou’s second round was perhaps more impressive than his first: the attention that had previously been squarely on 12-year-old Ye Wocheng’s shoulders at the start of the tournament had shifted onto Dou on Friday and he rose to the occasion beautifully, even reaching -4 for the tournament early in his round. [UPDATE: Dou shot another even-par 72 in Saturday’s third round, and a final round of 73 saw him finish tied for 33rd.]