For decades, golf's development in Asia suffered from the perception that it was ostensibly 'an old man's sport'. Certainly little was ever done in the way of promoting golf as a dynamic pastime or to encourage youngsters to take up the game. By and large, golf was something you turned to in middle age. On the overwhelming evidence presented before us during the past fortnight that is clearly, and thankfully, the case no longer. Indeed, these are heady days for Asian golf. First there was Thai-born 13-year-old Aree Wongluekiet winning the US Girls' Junior championship; then came 18-year-old Dorothy Delasin, a many-time Philippines representative, with her triumph in the US Women's Amateur; and now it is 17-year-old Korean Kim Sung-yoon qualifying for the US Amateur final. Already guaranteed a start in the 2000 US Masters at Augusta, victory at Pebble Beach this morning (HK time) would make him the first non-North American winner since 1911. He would also become the youngest in the 99-year history of the event, surpassing a certain Tiger Woods. Woods, of course, has done as much as anyone to introduce golf to the young generation. Now aged 23, Woods deservedly captured his second Major title at Medinah in Chicago last week. Yet it was the performance of a player four years his junior that captivated the golfing world. Spanish teenager Sergio Garcia proved beyond reasonable doubt that he will be a worthy rival for Woods in the new millennium. It was not so much the fact that he finished runner-up at the US PGA Championship, but more the exuberant demeanour he displayed and the thrilling manner in which he played that won the galleries. Then there was that shot. Yes, the one from the roots of an old tree, that only someone with the brashness of youth would even have contemplated pulling off, never mind daring to actually attempt. Because of its degree of difficulty, it was not, as the American commentators are wont to say, 'a smart play'. With only thoughts of trying to win in his mind, however, swashbuckling Sergio, clubface open and head turned away, executed a stroke of genius. Whatever he may go on to achieve, he will forever be remembered for that one moment of magic, followed by the impromptu dash down the fairway and the leap of expectancy as his ball cut back on to the green some 170 yards away. How sad that Hong Kong golf fans were denied the chance to see the action live, the only Major that was not televised here this year. Nevertheless, the blanket newspaper coverage of Garcia's extraordinary exploits plus the trail-blazing efforts of Aree, Delasin and Kim proved an inspiration for the record field of 103 who 'invaded' Lantau Island to compete in the final Hong Kong Open Junior Championship of the century. Top honours went to Taiwan's Chang Hong-wei with a two-round aggregate of 148. However, particularly pleasing was the fact that more than half of the entrants were from overseas. Also notable was that a high proportion of the 46 Hong Kong representatives were non-expatriate and that Jacqueline Cheng claimed the overall girls' title following a commendable closing 79 on Discovery Bay's Diamond-Ruby layout. In previous years the 10 and under age group has been contested by a handful of players. This year there were 18 in that category. Who still thinks golf's an 'old man's game'? Another sign of the times was the participation of 11 juniors from Shenzhen, further indication of the emphasis that the China Golf Association is placing upon bringing youngsters into the game. Liang Wen-chong is perhaps the best-known product of China's junior programme. A few months older than Garcia, Liang has relinquished his amateur status and last week made his professional debut in the Asian PGA Tour's Tianjin Open, where he made the cut. There's already speculation that Liang will be included in the China team for October's Alfred Dunhill Cup at St Andrews. Should that prove true, then we can look forward to the delicious prospect of him locking horns with both Garcia and Woods at The Home of Golf.