Golf legend Tiger Woods will make his first ever trip to mainland China at the end of the year to challenge three leading Asian professionals, the organisers of the event said on Thursday. The world number one is scheduled to appear from November 9 to 11 at the Mission Hills Golf Club in the southern boom city of Shenzhen. “Since I first saw the proposal for the event in China, I have been very excited, because China has the largest youth population in the world, and a great history in sport,” 25-year-old Woods said in a message from the United States. Woods’ three Asian competitors at the event — dubbed Mission Hills Tiger Woods China Challenge — have not yet been picked, according to International Management Group (IMG), which looks after the golfer’s business interests. “There’ll probably be one representative from manland China, and two other representatives from other Asian countries, basically representing the cream of Asian golf to challenge him,” said Robbie Henchman, director of Golf-IMG Asia. The organisers declined to reveal how much Woods would be paid to appear in China. David Chu, chairman of Mission Hills Golf Club, told a press conference in Beijing that Woods’ appearance would boost the country’s economy. “I am very pleased to see that golf sport in China plays another important role which serves to attract foreign capital and improve the investment environment in China,” said Chu. Woods, who won the Johnnie Walker Classic in Bangkok last year, has never been to China before and it took two and a half years of discussions to set up the trip. “The problem with Tiger is he comes to Asia, he plays a tournament, and he goes and wins it, and he has to defend that the next year, so it’s difficult to schedule Tiger’s appearances around different countries,” said IMG’s Henchman.
After his three-day trip to Shenzhen, Woods will move on to Japan to defend his World Cup title, Henchman said. Golf is an emerging sport in China, no longer reserved for just the super-rich, and Woods himself is a well-known celebrity here.