Golf: Yao Ming targets ‘idol’ Morgan Freeman as Pro-Am partner
- Updated: September 2, 2014
September 2, 2014: Basketball legend Yao Ming admitted he would most like to play with Hollywood star Morgan Freeman at next month’s Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am, which will be held at Mission Hill Haikou in Hainan from October 24-26.
Yao, 33, was interviewed during a press conference for the tournament at Mission Hills Dongguan on Monday, after he showcased the skills that made him an NBA legend by taking free-throws at a hoop set up next to the 18th green on the Olazabal Course.
When asked which famous celebrity he wants to play with when the star-studded event gets underway, Yao replied instantly. “Morgan Freeman. I know Morgan Freeman plays golf very well and he is my idol. It would be fantastic to be paired with him.”
Yao learned to play golf specifically for the last edition and the former Houston Rockets superstar admitted he would be working hard on his game ahead of the third edition of the globally televised tournament.
“This will be my second time to play in the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am and my goal for this year is to improve my golf skills to reach a new level,” said Yao, who stands 2.29 metres tall. “I have less than two months to practise, but I will work hard and try my best.”
Asked to compare golf with basketball, Yao said the mental side of the sport made it an ideal sport for young people to learn.
“Golf needs more patience, so it is a good way to train juniors to have peace of mind. We all know that young people have a lot of pressure nowadays, so we need to let them know a good mindset is much more important, since life is a long journey.”
Joining Yao at the press conference were Hong Kong actor Eric Tsang and Chinese golfing legend Zhang Lianwei, who also showed their sporting prowess. Before Yao’s free throws, Zhang gave a chipping demonstration and football fanatic Tsang tried out football golf, which will feature in next month’s Pro-Am.
The tournament will feature 24 professional golfers and 24 celebrities coming together for three days of sport and entertainment, including an exhibition of football golf.
As well as Freeman, international stars lined up to attend include Nicole Kidman, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans and Kenny G, while film director Feng Xiaogang, actors Chen Daoming and Wang Zhiwen, and singer Sun Nan will represent China’s entertainment industry.
Hong Kong celebrities include Tsang, Sammo Hung, Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Natalis Chan, Michael Wong, Ruco Chan and Miriam Yeung, while Korean stars include actress Gianna Jun (Jeon Ji-hyun) and singers Rain and Lyn.
Sporting icons include Russian ice skater Evgeni Plushenko, Chinese gymnast Li Ning and Portuguese footballer Luis Figo, while top golfers include Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, Darren Clarke, Rich Beem, Paul McGinley, Ian Woosnam, Greg Norman and nine-time major winner Gary Player.
Dr. Ken Chu, Chairman and CEO of Mission Hills Group, said: “The World Celebrity Pro-am is a crossover between pro and amateur, male and female players, golf pros and celebrities from sports and entertainment,” said Chu. “The aim of this tournament is to bring together all the stars and celebrities to popularise and promote the development of golf in China.”
The Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am is sponsored by American Express, Porsche, Stella Artois, Kohler, Lindt, San Pellegrino and Appletiser.
For more information, visit: www.missionhillswcpa.com
Source: Mission Hills (www.missionhillschina.com); Editing by SportAsia