Fan frenzy greets star golfers Woods and McIlroy in China
ZHENGZHOU, China - Agence France-Presse
McIlroy (R) and Woods prepare to hit a gong during the welcoming ceremony before an exhibition event in China. REUTERS photoRory McIlroy beat Tiger Woods by a single shot in the Duel at Jinsha Lake in China yesterday in a high quality showdown before a frenzied audience that came to greet the world’s top two.
Having flown in late on Oct. 28 night, McIlroy and Woods had any tiredness quickly extinguished by a surreal and lavish opening ceremony.
They were greeted by drum majorettes, fireworks and speeches from local dignitaries before clanging a ceremonial Chinese gong and having their handprints and autographs immortalized in clay, Hollywood-style appropriately for McIlroy, who was brought up in Holywood, Belfast.
World number one McIlroy carded a five under par 67 on the 7,039-yard, par-72 layout at Jinsha Lake Golf Club, with world number two and 14 times major winner Woods registering a 68.
China is seen as the next great market for golf to conquer in its global expansion, and the fans clearly love it though are mostly oblivious to the etiquette of the game, demonstrated amply when they broke through the ropes and invaded the driving range as McIlroy and Woods warmed up.
“This is certainly not like most Mondays,” said Woods afterwards, smiling. “It’s been a different one, hasn’t it?”
“I wouldn’t say it was crazy out there. The word I would use is ‘enthusiastic’,” said McIlroy. “It’s good to see so many people out there. So many people that follow golf and want to watch us play. I hope that continues.”