Remember a year ago when the smog in Beijing was so bad that Rafael Nadal nearly pulled out of the China Open tennis final, while golfers in the inaugural LPGA Reignwood Classic wore masks while they played?
This year during the National Week holiday the weather was generally kinder, though the weather did not go unnoticed. Check out these comments made by world number one Novak Djokovic:
The China Open tennis has long been in the books: the 10th anniversary of the tournament saw a dream men’s final between the top two seeds, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, in which Djokovic won, but Nadal regained the world number 1 ranking. But as the best male players in the world face off in London at the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals, it has emerged that this dream final came within a whisker of not happening at all. The reason? The pollution was so bad that Rafa Nadal almost refused to walk out on court.
The pictures of golfers wearing face masks during the Reignwood LPGA Classic this past weekend in Beijing made far bigger headlines than Feng Shanshan’s dramatic victory on home soil. But apparently there is something worse than the smog.
Chinese golf fans.
It should have been a triumphant weekend of sports for Beijing: China’s female golfing star, Feng Shanshan, took the inaugural Reignwood LPGA Classic by a single shot thanks to an eagle on the very last hole, the dream men’s final in the China Open tennis tournament saw no. 1 seed Novak Djokovic beat no. 2 seed Rafael Nadal, while on the women’s side Serena Williams won the tenth title of what is arguably the best year of her career.
But instead, everyone was talking about the weather.
Here are some photos the LPGA won’t show you… Sandra Gal of Germany was among those wearing a face mask for Round 3 of the Reignwood LPGA Classic [UPDATE: as well as for Round 4, with Jessica Korda and Jodi Ewart also posing wearing masks].
Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old kid who made the cut at the Masters, might be China’s most famous golfer, but Feng Shanshan is undoubtedly China’s best golfer right now (or ever, for that matter). She won the 2012 LPGA Championship to become the country’s first golfer – male or female – to win a major. More than a year later she is finally getting some recognition at home.
Next week, the golfing world will be squarely focused on Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods as they play in a dream Nike pairing for the first two rounds of the US Open, with Masters champion Adam Scott also along for the ride.
But this week the women play their second major of the year, the rain-delayed LPGA Championship, and the marquee group was the tournament’s last three winners: China’s Feng Shanshan, Taiwan’s Yani Tseng and American Christie Kerr.
I seem to have been writing lots about golf recently, but there is more big news this week, this time on the women’s side. Taiwan’s Yani Tseng has just re-signed with IMG, in what could be a huge step to getting her career back on track. She’s only 24, but has fallen a long way from the highs of 2011 when she won 12 times, including racking up a fifth major championship.
While the teenage males (12-year-old Ye Wocheng, 14-year-old Guan Tianlang, 16-year-old Dou Zecheng and others) have garnered recent attention for men’s golf in China, it’s the women who continue to lead the way.