Some 14,000 people were following their favourites on the final day of the WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan, with young Rory McIlroy their No 1 choice as he chased the leaders. With nine holes to play, the 2011 US Open champion was two shots behind Fredrik Jacobson's 16-under tally and one to the rear of Paul Casey .
The crowd at Sheshan has been younger than would apply at an Open or a US Open, with infinitely more children in the mix. Not bored children but infants who would already seemed to have grasped what the game is all about.
Away from the children , there have been teenage lads who, with no reason to hold their umbrellas aloft, have been copying one other in using them as makeshift golf clubs and trying to copy the stars' swings.
Among the more senior citizens, there was one Zhu Jig ming, aged 74, who was having the time of his life. A McIlroy follower, he had become aware of golf some ten to 15 years ago and joined Sheshan. "As a youngster," he said, "I played volleyball. Now, I play golf and my grand-daughter gives golf a try. Golf is very good for China. The crowds here get bigger every year and the game is developing all the time.
Zhu's handicap, bearing in mind he only started ten years ago, is a commendable 18.
Simon Gu, a young man in his 30s, said much the same. He was excited by the game's growing popularity and felt that golf's inclusion in the 2016 Olympics was going to accentuate the process. "At the moment, a lot of the people who play are businessmen and women who know they can talk business out on the course. From now on, though, I expect the costs to go down and more and more members of the public to get involved," he said. "We play lots of soccer and table-tennis here but I think it's good for us to learn a sport from outside."
China's Zhang Xin-jun is a prime example of a player who has made his way up through the golfing ranks, thanks not least to the China Golf Association. Zhang's introduction to golf was as a guard at the Xion International Golf Club. While there, he kept a watchful eye on the golfers as much as anything else and soon switched jobs to work as a caddie. From there, he went on to become a member of the Chinese amateur team and a golfer good enough to have been chosen to partner Liang Wenchong in the forthcoming World Cup on Hainan Island.
Yet well though he had played earlier in the week, Zhang was having a hard time of it today. After five straight pars, dropped three shots in the next four holes on his way to an outward 39 against the 31 of Paul Casey, one of his playing companions.
by Lewine Mair