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Sunday, 27 November 2016

The Great Danes and Li Hao-Tong

The World Cup of Golf, played at the wonderful Kingston Heath Club in Melbourne, was quite a show. It was highlighted by a superlative performance by the Danes, Thorbjorn Oleson and Soren Kjeldsen, who, with their best ball round of 60 on Friday, seized control of the tournament and refused to let go despite the best efforts of the French, the Americans, and the pair from China that included the twenty-one year old budding superstar, Li Hao-Tong.

After going out in even par on the final round to make things interesting and give some hope to the chasing pack, the Danes settled down and produced six birdies on the final nine to win handily. They were simply too good. The diminutive Kjeldsen, who has played his best golf since turning 40, was rock solid and allowed his equally small-in-stature--but big in power and explosiveness--partner, "Thunder Bear" Oleson, let it all hang out. It was a perfect partnership and the two, as Kjeldsen said in the post-tournament interview, have cemented a great golfing friendship this week. And that, as Kjeldsen also aptly pointed out, is really what this sort of team golf is all about.

The Danes proved to be the class of the field, but one player who I think has now announced his arrival on the world's golfing stage is the young Chinese player, Li Hao-Tong. This young man seems to have it all. He's got length. He hits all the shots. He is a terrific, bold putter. And he has lots of personality and clearly just loves to compete. Expect to see him become a world-class player; perhaps even the first Chinese golfer to win a Major. He is that good.

As for Kingston Heath; it won rave reviews from the players. Kjeldsen said it was the kind of course he could happily play every day. The weather conspired to make it not as hard, fiery and fast as it can be. The greens never stopped receiving well-hit shots. And birdies were there to be had. The course identified the best players, allowed them to showcase their shotmaking abilities, and once again proved that great courses are all about risk and reward and strategy. Length isn't everything.

A great win for the Danes. And watch out for Oleson and Li in the coming season. I expect to see them making plenty more noise.