Our man on the ground at Foshan Golf Club takes you behind the scenes of the Foshan Open…
Han plays a blinder
If ever proof were needed that pro golfers could beat us mere mortals with their eyes closed, it arrived on Wednesday afternoon at Foshan Golf Club, when six players were chosen at random to take part in a nearest the pin competition from 100 yards. That might sound easy enough, until you consider that they were required to wear a blindfold. Fears that the club’s insurance policy might not cover spectators injured during the ‘Blind Shootout’ proved unfounded, as the players proved their dexterity by not only making contact with the ball, but also somehow locating the green – with the notable exception of Markus Brier, who managed to find the bunker with his first effort, and the lake with his second. The winner was Han Ren, whose very first effort miraculously stopped just 156cm from the pin. A blinding shot, you might say…
Hair today, gone tomorrow
Anyone who has attended a press conference in China knows that some of the questions can be on the quirky side, but Nick Dougherty was caught off guard by the curveball thrown in his direction by a female member of the press corps. The Englishman might have expected questions about his recent struggles, but instead it was his new hairstyle which was the main topic of conversation. In his youth, Dougherty sported a spiky number in keeping with his trendy image, but that has now been replaced by a side-parting – as befits a man in his (whisper it quietly) early thirties. Having regained his composure, Dougherty explained the reason behind the change was that “if I didn’t take myself seriously with a haircut like that, I couldn’t expect anyone else to either!” Referring to the birth of his son Max, he added: “I’m a Dad now, and it’s definitely a Dad’s haircut.” Which goes to show that even though he may temporarily have lost his form, Dougherty has retained all his old class and a keen sense of humour.
Golf meets martial arts in the middle
Golf and Kung Fu are about as different as two sports can possibly be, but they will come closer this week as the Challenge Tour pitches up in Bruce Lee’s hometown of Foshan. Fans of the renowned Kung Fu actor, who starred in hit films such as ‘Enter the Dragon’ and ‘Fist of Fury’, regularly flock to Bruce Lee Park and Bruce Lee Ancestral Home, two of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. Indeed, Foshan has long been known as a mecca for martial artists, as the Foshan Hongsheng Martial Arts Centre, founded in 1851 by master Zhangyan, was once the largest Kung Fu centre in the whole of China. With just this week’s tournament and next week’s National Bank of Oman Golf Classic to come before the 45-man Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final, the players on the cusp of the all-important top 15 places in the Rankings will need to channel their inner zen warriors to secure a place in The 2014 Race to Dubai.
Foshan Open raises the bar
One of the chief aims of the Challenge Tour is to prepare the players for life on The European Tour, and to that end the Foshan Open is a shining example of how a tournament should be run. From the pristine course to the superb driving range to the lavish lunches and the luxurious locker rooms, the player’s every need is catered for this week. The media centre and interview room can comfortably accommodate up to 50 members of the Chinese press corps, giving the tournament the feel of a European Tour event. With the season-ending Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final just two weeks away, there is a lot on the line for the players this week, and the superb set-up should put them in the best possible frame of mind for the challenges ahead.