Fanling courses must stay, warn Hong Kong golf silver medallists
Team hold off pros from Guangdong and salute Hong Kong Golf Club for aiding development
Chan Kin-wa in Shenyang
Hong Kong's golfers captured a third silver medal for the city at the National Games after fighting off a late challenge from Guangdong, then warned that the sport would be seriously harmed if the Hong Kong Golf Club's courses at Fanling were turned over for housing development.
Recently there have been calls for the land to be surrendered but coach Tang Wai-chun warned this would be a huge setback.
"We have been using the Fanling course free of charge over the last two months," he said. "Not only to prepare for the Shenyang Games, the club also provides facilities for our junior development programmes and training for our senior squad.
"There are already very limited golf facilities in the city and if the Hong Kong Golf Club does not exist anymore, it will be a big blow to the development of the sport."
Wong Woon-man, the only team member based in Hong Kong as his teammates train in the United States, said the result would be a big boost to the sport in Hong Kong, and voiced his fears over the mooted Fanling plan.
"We can now tell Hong Kong people our standard is not too bad," said Wong. "Golf has been included in the National Games for the first time and we have been able to return with a silver medal. It's not a bad performance.
"But we also need to remember venue facilities play an important role for the development of sport. The Hong Kong Golf Club is the biggest in Hong Kong with a long very tradition. If it is closed, it will hit the sport seriously as we already have very limited venues.
"We don't want to see it happen but it is out of our hands."
Hosts Liaoning, who had been leading from the first day, finished 10 ahead for gold; Guangdong were eight behind Hong Kong at the start of the final day and closed the gap to just one before having to settle for bronze.
"We did not realise they were closing in so strongly," said Tang Tsz-hang, one of the quartet that also comprised Wong, Jason Hak Shun-yat and Yeung Mo-tin. "We just played our own game and in the end it's a great job accomplished."
Golf was introduced into the National Games for the first time as it will be played at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Coach Tang Wai-chun was delighted with the achievement as HK saw off the challenge of Guangdong, who had two of China's top professionals in their team, Liang Wenchong and veteran Zhang Lianwei.
"The final day was very competitive as at one point we closed the gap against Liaoning to three, while in the last few holes, Guangdong surged back strongly, but they had already lost too much ground," he said.
In the women's event, Hong Kong finished seventh. Guangdong, headed by leading professional Feng Shanshan, clinched the gold with Shanghai and Beijing second and third.
On the athletics track, the 4x100-metre relay team finished second overall in the heats in 39.26 seconds to reach the final.