Junior Golf Development Programme Graduates Ready to Shine at EFG Hong Kong Ladies Open
A contingent of local golfing talents who came through the Hong Kong Golf Association junior development programme supported by the Hong Kong Golf Club will look to follow Tiffany Chan Tsz-ching’s footsteps and make a mark at the 2017 EFG Hong Kong Ladies Open, where Chan won in the most thrilling fashion 12 months ago.
Taking place on 9 to 11 June at the 128-year-old club’s Old Course in Fanling, the tournament marked the beginning of a remarkable 12 months for Chan, who became Hong Kong’s first golfing Olympian, and put together an excellent season representing the University of Southern California. Her successes have inspired 2017 EFG Hong Kong Ladies Open participants, Kitty Tam Yik-ching, Mimi Ho Miu-yee, Vivian Lee Kai-wing, Chloe Chan Cheuk-Yee and Virginie Ding Wai-chung, who like the 23-year-old, graduated through the Hong Kong Golf Association’s renowned junior development programme in recent years.
The organiser and host of the Hong Kong Ladies Open, Hong Kong Golf Club has invested significantly in much of the past century to play its part to ensure golf is accessible at every level to the local community of Hong Kong. Its renowned schools programme, which focuses on youngsters living in the New Territories, sees around 70 kids each week from four local schools and Inspire Hong Kong benefit from the initiative, with opportunities to learn about golf and hone their skills both on the course and at the club’s driving range. This year, three more schools plus an ‘advanced class’ will be added to the programme in September, increasing the number of weekly golf sessions in Fanling to 12, allowing even more youngsters to pick up the sport. In collaboration with Inspire Hong Kong, a beneficiary of 2017 EFG Hong Kong Ladies Open’s Official Charity, Friends of Asia, these youngsters will have the opportunity to play in friendly but competitive tournaments each month over the summer holidays, offering them another platform to keep moving upwards with the game of golf.
20-year-old Tam remembers her younger days well. She said:
“I will always remember and be thankful for the programmes and clinics I participated in when I was younger. It was there where I made some of my best friends, who have shared my happiest and toughest moments on and off the golf course. The HKGA junior golf development really helped me come to a decision to make golf my career, and it opened up a lot of opportunities for me to keep improving.”
Arnold Wong, Captain of Hong Kong Golf Club added:
“It’s humbling to see some of Hong Kong’s most talented girls make a mark for themselves in the golfing world after coming through our training programmes. The EFG Hong Kong Ladies Open is the number one highlight on the local golfing calendar and for these girls, it is the final step before they head out to test the skills against the best in the region, then hopefully the world. The tournament is played in June for a reason, to make sure it coincides with the school holidays so the best local talents studying overseas can come back and compete. It provides a platform for them to test where their game is, and discover areas they need to improve on.”
The US$150,000 tournament welcomed its first ever title sponsor this year with EFG signing for a three-year deal. The Swiss private bank is no stranger to the world of golf, having been the principal partner of Hong Kong Golf Association’s elite young golfer programme between 2009 and 2014. The financial support provided by EFG allowed the best local talents with access to better coaches, gyms for physical training and conditioning, nutritional specialists to help them on their way to achieving their golf dreams. In addition, EFG’s contribution allowed the Hong Kong Golf Association to send more youngsters overseas to compete, and often for parents or coaches to travel too, so that young competitors would be better supported during tournament outside of Hong Kong.
EFG Bank also set up EFG Bank Young Golfers Foundation (now renamed EFG Bank Young Athletes Foundation), a charity mainly supported by EFG Bank’s clients and staff, which arranged charity events like charity golf day to further promote and support the activities of the young golfers.
It was right at the start of the EFG’s foray into Hong Kong golf junior development that EFG International Head of Asia Region Albert Chiu met Tiffany. He commented:
“EFG is all about nurturing local talents and we had partnered with the Hong Kong Golf Association since 2009 to do exactly that, funding and supporting the best home grown golf talents to hope that one day, they are able to proudly represent Hong Kong, and shine internationally. I remember back in those early days, Tiffany, Stephanie and Mimi were all there. They were all young, fresh, fearless and raring to go. It is great to see how they have all taken their own paths, made smart decisions and growing into mature and responsible adults.”
“We have always been very proud of the group of talents that we supported since they were very young. And Tiffany was not just one of the group but was always the hardest working and the most impressive. When she decided to go to the US for her university education and to further improve her golf in 2013, EFG offered her financial support in the form of a scholarship. To see her subsequently join the University of Southern California Golf Team with a full scholarship, winning the World University Golf Championship and then representing Hong Kong at the Rio Olympics, makes us all very proud. That’s the reason why we made the decision to support the Hong Kong Ladies Open, so that more young golfers in Hong Kong will have the chance to express their talents. This is the next phase of our plans to support Hong Kong golf and we look forward to seeing our local competitors do well at the tournament.”
The three-day 54-hole tournament is sanctioned by the CLPGA, the TLPGA, and the Ladies Asian Golf Tour, and also supported by the Hong Kong Professional Golfers’ Association, and the Hong Kong Golf Association.
The tournament will see over 100 of professional and amateur golfers battle it out for a share of the US$150,000 prize purse. There will be a cut after two rounds, with only the top half of the field competing on the final day. Entry to the event is free. For further information on the 2017 EFG Hong Kong Ladies Open, please visit www.hkladiesopen.com and www.facebook.com/efghongkongladiesopen/