HAIKOU, China, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- Golfing great Gary Player said he was proud and excited by the growth of the sport in Asia and thinks it is only a matter of time before a future Tiger Woods comes from China.

The nine-time Major Champion was speaking from the Chinese tropical island of Hainan on the eve of the 2016 Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am.

""Golf in Asia is growing quicker than anywhere else in the world and I was very proud to see a Chinese lady (Feng Shanshan) win a bronze medal at the Olympics,"" said the 80-year-old South African.

""We are going to see a Tiger Woods come from China in a matter of time which will be very exciting.""

Player will be gracing the fairways of the signature Blackstone Course at Mission Hills Haikou on October 22-23 for the fourth edition of the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am. He is joined by John Daly, Mark O'Meara and Rich Beem - all Major winners - plus an equally impressive foursome of LPGA stars Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis, Suzann Pettersen and Anna Nordqvist.

Local favorite Li Haotong, winner of the European Tour's Volvo China Open earlier this year, will make up the field of nine elite golfers who will be competing over two rounds of individual stableford for a prize purse of 1 million US dollars - with 250,000 dollars going to the winner.

Excitement is building not just among the golfers but also from the sporting and entertainment icons who will be playing alongside them in a separate bid for the celebrity and team titles.

Hollywood stars Michael Douglas and Jeremy Renner are just two of the celebrities in Haikou for the week of golf and glamour.

Having attended the Mission Hills Film Forum, Douglas said: ""This week is an extraordinary opportunity to bring the world together, for us to meet so many Chinese actors and directors and, for me, to combine golf and cinema - my two loves.""

""Being around so many great golfers, it will be fun to just watch and learn,"" said Renner. ""Spending time with fans is one of my favorite things and it has been amazing to come here to China and realise there is a lot of love and support here for me,"" he added on his first visit to the country.

Stars from the world of sport include three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker and basketball Hall of Famers Allen Iverson and Yao Ming. They are joined by a host of footballing legends, including Manchester United stars Paul Scholes, Dwight Yorke, Lee Sharpe and David May and Liverpool greats Robbie Fowler, Luis Garcia and Gary McAllister.

The biennial Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am was established in 2010 as Asia's first and only pro-celebrity golf tournament. This sporting and entertainment extravaganza - which reaches more than 26 television channels in Greater China and over 200 countries and regions worldwide - aims to popularize golf in China whilst also promoting Hainan Island as a tourist destination and supporting local charities. Proceeds are being donated to The Nature Conservancy and the Hainan United Youth Association.

The World Celebrity Pro-Am continues its long-standing partnership with some of the world's leading brands, including global services company, American Express; sophisticated Belgian beer, Stella Artois; luxury car brand, Lexus; leading premium bottled mineral water, Tibet 5100; and world renowned Swiss chocolate, LINDT.

The Lexus partnership with Mission Hills and the World Celebrity Pro-Am was announced this week by the Executive Vice President of Lexus China, Tetsuya Ezumi.

""We are very privileged to have reached a strategic cooperation agreement with the Mission Hills Group, who runs the world's largest golf club. Mission Hills has built a vast platform by which both golf enthusiasts and casual players can enjoy the elegant life. Lexus is also committed to providing superior products and services for our consumers and creating a high-quality travel and lifestyle experience,"" Ezumi said.

""Guided by these shared values, Lexus and the Mission Hills Group will work together through strategic co-operation over the next two years. In addition to supporting the Mission Hills Golf Tournaments, we will also provide official fleet services for players and VIP guests, providing comfortable, safe and eco-friendly transportation and raising the quality of life for all users."" Enditem


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