The Omega Mission Hills World Cup got underway in stunning fashion at the Opening Ceremony on Wednesday afternoon, where hundreds of media, guests and representatives welcomed the 28 nations.
The ceremony started with a spectacular routine by Chinese dancers and then featured a number of speeches before the players were finally introduced along with huge flags from each competing country.
European Tour Chief Executive George O’Grady said: “Congratulations to all 28 nations here today. The diversity of this field is testament to John Jay Hopkins, who founded the tournament, and we wish them all the very best of luck this week.”
Francesco Molinari gave a short address on behalf of all the competing nations. Francesco, together with brother Edoardo, won the title for Italy in 2009, the last time the event was staged.
This is the fifth time the World Cup has been staged at a Mission Hills venue, four times previously at Shenzen, China, and this year in Hainan Island, in the South China Sea.
O’Grady paid tribute to Dr David Chu, the founder of Mission Hills, who died this year, leaving the legacy of Mission Hills in the hands of his two sons, Ken and Tenniel.
“We were all very sorry to hear of Dr Chu's death,” he added. “Golf has lost a great visionary and we are proud to be here today.”
Jon Linen, the chairman of the International Golf Association, said: “We are all very proud to continue the noble heritage of the World Cup here in China. The 56th World Cup will be instrumental in the continuation of the growth of golf in China.”
Peter Dawson, the Chief Executive of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, was announced as this year’s recipient of the David Chu award - presented by US PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem - for his services to the game, and he gave thanks for it via a recorded video played on a large screen.
“I am truly honoured to be given this award,” he said. “The game of golf has much for which to thank Dr Chu. We will always be in his debt for making a bridge between golf and China. He was truly a pioneer.”
The ceremony ended with a spectacular fireworks display which lit up the night skies of Hainan Island.