Hong Kong Ladies Open

Golf is still elitist in China and Hong Kong, but young star says it ‘became a sport’ in Brazil after the Rio Olympics

In town for the Hong Kong Ladies Open, Luiza Altmann hopes to make her mark in a country that had to build a course specifically for its Games

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 May, 2018, 4:21pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 May, 2018, 10:22pm

Golf in Brazil “became a sport all of sudden” after the 2016 Rio Olympics and young gun Luiza Altmann hopes to be at the forefront of capitalising on its change in fortunes, starting in Hong Kong this week.

Altmann, who is in confident mood ahead of the EFG Hong Kong Ladies Open, is only 20 and in her first season as a professional, but already she senses an opportunity to make her mark in a country that had to build a course specifically for the Games.

Golf has long been considered an elitist sport in China and Hong Kong, but Altmann says the Olympics have been a catalyst for change in Brazil.

“Golf just became a sport all of sudden, when before it was so elite,” she said. “Now everybody knows about it, everybody hears about it and roots for our Brazilian players.

“I feel like its growing and I hope to be the name that people look up to and try to grow the game through that.”

Altmann looked on as Inbee Park and Justin Rose took gold in Rio and has her sights set firmly on Tokyo 2020, although she expects to have competition in a country that is starting to get behind its golfers.

“They really help us but we don’t have that many players, the elite players have to travel a lot,” she said. “They are really good at giving us opportunities to play and represent the country.”

Despite the Olympic legacy that has made the game more accessible to the masses, like so many from around the world Altmann had to move to the United States to keep her game moving forward.

Based in Orlando, she enters this week’s Open armed with the tools to ensure she won’t be overawed by the first Hongkonger to play on the LPGA Tour, Tiffany Chan Tsz-ching.

“Being in Orlando where so many LPGA players are based, I get the opportunity to play with them,” Altmann said.

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“Hideki Matsuyama is a player on my golf course so we practise and play together. I get the experience of playing with a PGA Tour pro.”

Altmann plans to keep playing on the Ladies European Tour and the Symetra Tour for much of 2018, before turning her attention to Q-School and trying to qualify for the LPGA Tour, like Chan did last year.

With a host of amateur victories to her name, Altmann is no stranger to success and is eager to test herself at Fanling.

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“To compete in such a tournament is a huge test of my skills and, to build myself as a player and as a person, it’s an incredible opportunity,” she said.

“Just to be out here in a different country and a different culture, for self confidence and to build my game it would mean a lot to win.”