Our two Press Officers at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup bring you all the action from behind the sThe cenes at Mission Hills Resort….
Thursday was Thanksgiving Day, which the USA always celebrate heartily, so it was a lovely gesture from Tenniel Chu, the son of Mission Hills founder Dr David Chu, to invite all the Americans at the tournament to a dinner that evening. Our counterparts from the US PGA Tour were invited, as were the American team of Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland, plus their families, and by all accounts it was a cracking night. There may not have been turkey, but Chinese-style duck and some fine wine more than made up for it. Of course, a Chinese dinner party would not be complete without some karaoke (you can read more about that below) and rumour has it that Kuchar won a prize for the best effort on the mic...
Bog standard Hainan...
The Omega Mission Hills World Cup is not the only world event taking place on the island of Hainan this week. It may be a small place in the South China Sea with a population of 1.8 million, but another huge convention is happening... the World Toilet Summit. Yes, it's true. Members of the World Toilet Assciation have gathered here for a three-day conference to discuss the world's sanitation and how it can be improved. It was hard to keep a lid on this story. Let's hope this association is here to stay and make a difference and it's not just a flash in the pan.
Plain boiled or special fried?
You shouldn't really take the mickey out of the way foreigners speaking English, but I'm going to, because sometimes it is just too funny not to. As the starter announced Team Wales on the tee in the first round, he pronounced Rhys Davies as 'Rice Davies', causing much hilarity to his playing partner Jamie Donaldson, who asked if he was plain boiled or special fried...
Olesen just makes it
Having only learned of his inclusion in the Omega Mission Hills World Cup last Friday, when Thomas Björn was forced to withdraw because of injury, Thorbjørn Olesen faced a scramble to secure a Chinese visa in time to represent Denmark alongside Anders Hansen. He was in Japan after the Barclays Singapore Open when he received a call from Björn asking if he could take his place and the following morning flew to Hong Kong. An anxious wait ensued as he had to repeatedly visit the Chinese embassy in Hong Kong over the weekend, a place he described as "crazy", but eventually he had a visa in his hands and was bound for Hainan Island. After arriving Tuesday evening, the 21 year old teed off at 9.30am the next morning in the Pro-Am. He admitted that all the rushing around to get a visa and the subsequent dash to the venue had distracted him from any potential nerves, this being a far cry from the Challenge Tour, on which he was plying his trade only last season.
Welcome to Mission Hills
Two plane journeys, about 38 hours, a night in Hong Kong and a short taxi ride was all it took to hop from London to the magnificent Mission Hills Resort on Hainan Island, China, but it is worth the marathon journey. The Blackstone Course – one of ten courses here – is simply stunning, with huge swathes of volcanic rock characterising the holes. It looks immaculate, as does everything around the whole resort, from the immense driving range to the grand clubhouse to the luxurious players’ lounge. The attention to detail is seriously impressive.
Somewhat disconcertingly, a five-foot cobra was spotted a few days ago behind the fourth green, so not everything here is as friendly as the very warm, smiling Chinese people who have welcomed us with open arms. The sighting sparked a conversation at dinner one night between various European Tour staff about things they had seen on golf courses around the world. One referee once came face to face with a black mamba in South Africa, another had an encounter with a spider the size of his hand and one was standing near the edge of a water hazard when a pair of crocodile eyes appeared from under the surface. But trumping the lot was the time a huge snake – believed to also be a cobra – slithered on to the practice putting green at the 1998 Malaysian Open and past Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke, who have probably never moved so quickly in their lives!
Having just won his maiden professional European Tour title at the Iskandar Johor Open, Joost Luiten was looking forward to catching up with his parents on Monday evening at Mission Hills to celebrate. His mum and dad found out Joost had won when they changed planes en route to Haikou, and they arrived a few hours before their son. They were understandably excited to greet him, as was his Dutch team-mate Robert-Jan Derksen who was delighted to have the latest European Tour champion as his partner for the week.
Red wine and karaoke – a dangerous combination
As mentioned above, the welcome we have received from the local people here in Hainan and at Mission Hills has been second to none, and a friendly smile and a ‘nee-how’ – Chinese for hello – are never far away. On Sunday evening, Tenniel Chu, son of the late Dr David Chu who founded the Mission Hills group, hosted a dinner for roughly 20 staff working on the event. And it was certainly a night to remember! Course after course of delicious Chinese food was accompanied by some exquisite red wine, and then the real entertainment began.. the karaoke. Now, the Chinese evidently take their karaoke very seriously, and unlike in other countries they don’t need to drink ten pints before they are up there crooning away. Tenniel Chu’s tunes of choice were a Chinese ballad and Sean Kingston’s Beautiful Girls, but a certain press officer raised the roof when he unleashed his hitherto unknown vocal talent with a superb rendition of ‘Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me’. The European Tour might just be advertising a vacancy once next year’s X-Factor comes around.
At the aforementioned dinner was also one of the most famous actors in China, Simon Yam, who is a friend of Tenniel Chu and is playing in the pro-am on Wednesday. Of course to all the westerners present he was not familiar, but the waiting staff and the Chinese tournament officials were in awe of Simon, who has been in more than 200 films – mostly playing policemen or detectives.