European Tour's TCL Classic shows the bright side of Hainan Island
This week’s TCL Classic is the most watchable European Tour event since the Johnnie Walker Classic. It’s got a better field than the tournaments in recent weeks in Singapore, Jakarta and Malaysia, and the Yalong Bay Golf Club on the Chinese island of Hainan is a well-maintained course with manicured greens like we’re accustomed to seeing at PGA tour events.
David Howell, billed as the “Tiger Tamer” and currently 14th in the world, is the favorite, but Ed Loar, an All-American from Oklahoma State and Liang Wen-chong of China lead the field after the first round, tied at 10-under-par 62. This tournament could be won with a total score of under 260 because several of the par 5’s are easily reached in two, and several par 4’s are shorter than 350 yards.
I’m sure the players will enjoy the week on Hainan Island because of that famous Asian hospitality and service, and because the beaches – just a short walk from the golf course – are comparable to those at Phuket and the Hawaiian Islands.
Fifteen years ago, Hainan didn’t have much industry besides coconuts. It’s still a developing island, the kind of place where you still see people sitting in front of thatched roof houses chewing betel nut.
What you don’t hear on the telecast is that Hainan Island carries a reputation as one of Asia’s primary destinations for sex tourism. Because the government winks at law enforcement, thousands of girls from the Chinese mainland come here to earn money the old-fashioned way.
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