The product of a time when China was building golf courses at a faster rate than any other country, and perhaps of a long (questionable) heritage of golf in China, Li Haotong has his sights set on the world’s golfing elite.
Raised in southern China’s Hunan province, Li began playing golf at age 10 and officially went pro at just 16. Despite being a native, the Hunan provincial golf team didn’t accept him at age 18, because they felt he was too amateur of a player, so he had to settle for the slightly less reputable Hubei provincial team to the north. The following year, 2014, he won three PGA Tour China tournaments in very mature fashion.
After that the scope of his accomplishments continued to broaden. In 2015 he outscored the seasoned two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson in the third round of the Shenzhen International golf tournament. The next year he extended his reach by taking home his first victory at an elite PGA European Tour tournament, the Volvo China Open.
The next time he won a European Tour tournament, the Omega Dubai Desert Classic last year, he set the tournament record.
Leading up to the Masters this year he’s already made big headlines. First he fell victim to a controversial new rule at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic (which he won the year before) in an instance the European Tour chief executive called “grossly unfair“. It had to do with “caddie alignment” and the punishment was variously branded as “pedantic” and “ridiculously marginal.”
Li brushed it off though. The next weekend he sent tremors through the golfing world by scoring three eagles on par fours in a single round. If you don’t speak golf, just know that that’s impressive — take a look at this tweet:
Unbelievable golf!@haotong_li makes his THIRD eagle on a par 4 today. pic.twitter.com/oDaCaBsT59— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) February 2, 2019
Unbelievable golf!@haotong_li makes his THIRD eagle on a par 4 today. pic.twitter.com/oDaCaBsT59
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) February 2, 2019
In 2019, he also attracted attention after teeing off with Tiger Woods in the Master. He may be far from a household name on a par with Woods of course, but Li is clearly ambitious — and this seems unlikely to be the last we hear of him.
Cover photo by Mick De Paola on Unsplash
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