World No. 1 Tiger Woods and former World No. 1 Rory McIlroy were united in their belief that China will establish itself as a major force on the fairways, after spending time with some of the country’s top youngsters at Mission Hills Haikou on Hainan Island.


The two multiple major winners conducted a clinic with China Junior Team and teenagers from the women’s China Amateur Team on Monday.


They also participated in a short-iron skills challenge with 15-year-old Masters sensation Guan Tianlang.


Woods, who first travelled to China in 2001 when he visited Mission Hills Dongguan, believes the country has made giant strides in golf development over the past decade and in particular since it was announced that the sport would be included in the 2016 Olympics.


Woods, 37, emphasised that the rapid growth in junior development would take a generation to show results at the highest level.


"It’s going to be really amazing to see over the next 15, 20 years, what the landscape of golf is going to look like and how many people from China or Asia Pacific are going to be playing at the world-class level. A lot of it is going to be due to what the Chus have done in Mission Hills and their development program," added Woods, referring to Ken and Tenniel Chu, Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Mission Hills Group.


McIlroy believes the time he and Woods spent with the junior golfers goes beyond the tips they shared with them. The enormous crowd watched his showdown with Woods, including over 70 youngsters who played in the weekend’s junior tournament at Mission Hills Haikou.


"I think [young golfers] can benefit a lot from an event like this. More than anything else, I think spending time with us might inspire them to keep playing and keep trying to improve." McIlroy said.


Both players were united in their praise of the initiative to offer year-round free golf for under-16 players on two courses at Mission Hills Haikou, where all 10 layouts are open to members of the public.


SOURCE: Mission Hills China