Faldo says Hu Mu can be the Yao Ming of the fairways

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 April, 2006, 12:00am

Nick Faldo has identified the Yao Ming of golf - 16-year-old Hu Mu, who beat the great Englishman by a shot over the opening two days of the Asian Open at Tomson Golf Club.

The Shenzhen-born, US-based Hu opened with a five over 77, but came back with a 73 in more difficult conditions yesterday to finish at 150, three shots above the projected cut.

'China needs a Yao Ming, someone to idolise,' said Faldo, who then nominated Hu as a likely candidate. 'He is very talented, but the bottom line is the youngsters need the opportunities to gain experience. That's the way life works. And you fail first before you succeed.'

Faldo, 48, said the only way was up for the sport in China. 'Golf is definitely on the way up. The seeds have been sown and it's expanding all the time,' said the six-time major winner.

Despite missing another cut with rounds of 74 and 77, Faldo (pictured) walked away a winner as leading financial firm UBS became a major partner of the Faldo Series Asia, which was staged in Hong Kong in January and will move to Mission Hills in Shenzhen next year. The series holds national championships throughout Asia, including Hong Kong, with six players graduating to the Faldo Series Final, which is hosted by Faldo himself.

'As we saw in Hong Kong, psychology is very important to the players as they are under pressure to succeed much quicker these days. We have to educate them in all the different areas of the game, whether it's physical, mental, technical, the rules of the game and even public speaking,' Faldo said.

UBS sponsored the Hong Kong Open, expanded its golf focus by putting its name to the Asian Tour's order of merit with a US$1 million outlay; and has now invested in the grass-roots of the game.

Seraphina Wong, executive director of UBS Asia Pacific, said: 'With the Olympic Games in Beijing rapidly approaching, every sport in China, and indeed Asia, is searching for the next young star. Golf is no different and we want to be part of that initiative.'

She would not reveal the cost of the latest investment, but it is understood to be around US$130,000 a year.



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