Honma Hong Kong Open

Hong Kong golfer Leon D’Souza in safe hands as mentor Tang vows to look after promising youngster’s development

Ex-pro Tim Tang ready for the challenge of helping to cultivate promising crop of Hong Kong youngsters into top golfers

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 November, 2017, 2:10pm
UPDATED : Monday, 27 November, 2017, 11:34am

When young Leon D’Souza wandered off the 18th knowing he had done enough to make the UBS Hong Kong Open cut on Friday, Tim Tang was eagerly awaiting to heap praise on Hong Kong’s leading amateur.

Tang, 31, knows precisely the joy and relief the 19-year-old had gone through. After all, he has been there before. Twice.

“Leon’s father, Loy, told me that Leon used to beg him to go to the golf course. It was never forced upon him. I was the same; my dad has never asked me to practice a single day of my life,” said Tang, who will assume his role as Hong Kong Golf Association’s (HKGA) new high performance manager from December 1.

“Hopefully Leon making the cut will inspire more kids to look up to him. They need someone to look up to locally – having that success on the grand stage is a remarkable feat.”

D’Souza himself attributed some of his recent success to Tang, saying they went through technical training such as ball alignment and face control.

“Everything is a habit,” Tang explained. “Things come with practice and you have to incorporate it into your daily routine. If you’re negative, it will be reflected on the golf course, whereas if you’re always looking at the glass half full, then you will overcome obstacles.”

Tang’s role is to do exactly what it says on the tin: manage high performance. He will harness the skills of Hong Kong’s most promising golfers and ensure they perform at the highest possible level both locally and abroad.

“The way I see it, everything revolves around the players. I’m here as a friend, coach and mentor; and to lead by example.”

“The competitiveness and challenges you experience within golf – I can assist with that. And to just listen to what these young golfers have to say. Let them know we’re there to help.”

“At the same time, we have to be strict and that’s where my experience will come in handy. Tournament preparations, psychology, and [HKGA development director] John Wallett has a great structure set in place for the programme.”

Tang is one of Hong Kong’s most accomplished golfers. After moving to the United States as a child, he started golfing with his father and uncle at the age of 12. He broke his first par two years later and soon became regional high school champion.

Tang graduated from university in 2009 having won two amateur championships and just barely missing out on the US Open. He turned professional that summer and returned to Hong Kong, becoming the only professional Hong Kong golfer to receive full Asian Tour status.

He had played in the Hong Kong Open six times, making the cut in 2012 and repeating the feat a year later. In 2014, he joined the PGA Tour China – a lifelong dream of his – and roamed about the Chinese and Thai circuits before turning his attention to developing young Chinese players alongside pro golfer Liang Wenchong last year.

“The lifestyle of a touring pro can be lonely but it makes you stronger and more independent,” said Tang. “It taught me a lot and that’s why I want to teach these kids how to treat people with good etiquette and integrity – that’s what the game of golf is all about.”

With such an eclectic pool of talent emerging from Hong Kong, Tang intends to use his first-hand experiences as a pro to encourage and, in some cases, discourage certain attitudes, styles and career paths.

“They have to be willing,” said Tang. “You don’t want arrogance – you can be a superstar, but if you’re not a good person, you’ll only go so far.

“We have a lot of good players out here for such a small place. It’s going to take time – we have to build a good foundation, which we are doing – but you will see more people like Leon.

“We are in exciting times and it’s only going to get better.”