The Royal Trophy and Golf in China
The latest edition of the Royal Trophy wrapped up yesterday with a European team, led by Jose Maria Olazabal, taking the honors. The tournament aims to mimic the success of the Ryder Cup by pitting Asia against Europe in a similar team tournament format.
Europe went into the final day needing a small miracle to claim the Trophy. The persistence of the away team paid off though as Asia struggled to maintain the form that had seen them go ahead on the previous day. Europe walked away with the trophy, winning by the slightest of margins, 8-7. After twice leading a European team to defeat in the tournament, Olazabal was exceptionally pleased (and perhaps relieved) by the performance of his team.
The tournament was this year held at Dragon Lake Golf Club in Guangzhou, China, a modern and picturesque course that did not disappoint. This year marks the first time that the event has been held in the world’s most populous nation and as such marks an important breakthrough for the tournament. If the tournament really is to rival the popularity of the Ryder Cup, then the Chinese market will be key to this.
Traditionally a sport played by the middle and upper classes, the popularity of golf is set to increase exponentially in China as the Chinese middle class swells.
Guangzhou is home to over 13 million people and is surrounded by millions more. The Guangzhou economy is among the most fruitful in China and for this reason was a perfect choice for the latest edition of the Royal Trophy.
The tournament itself was full of excitement and an excellent showcase for some amazing golfers. The fact that Asia lost this tournament is beside the point. The Royal Trophy is fulfilling its aim of increasing the popularity of golf in Asia. As the next generation of Asian golfers rise through the ranks, the tournament will go from strength to strength and years from now, could be a legitimate rival of the Ryder cup.