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Volume 6 No. 215

People and Pop Culture

Golf Hall of Famer GREG NORMAN was named an advisory coach to the Chinese National Golf Team in March, and said he thinks a majors champion from China "will come," according to a Q&A with Pete Madden of Below are excerpts from the Q&A.

Q: What's the biggest challenge standing in the way of the development of the game in China?
Norman: Building sustainable golf courses. There's talk of building [10,000-15,000] golf courses in China, and that's a huge undertaking. It's like a drop in the bucket for them, but they have to build these courses in a sustainable fashion that allows the grassroots access, not just the wealthy, but the not so wealthy. That's the hardest part for them to understand. The elitist image is absolutely damaging. Trying to grow a sport like golf in China, access is a problem. The ones who can join early on are the wealthy, so children of the wealthy are the benefactors, but we have to change that.

Q: Guan Tianlang (at 14) became the youngest golfer ever to play in the Masters. Dou Zecheng (at 16) became the youngest golfer ever to make the cut at the Volvo China Open. Ye Wocheng (at 12) became the youngest golfer ever to qualify for the European Tour. Are these the stars of the future?
Norman: I think you will remember those names. They have the ability to go on, but this is only the first wave of what's going to come. This is the tip of the iceberg. These kids will go on and be successful, creating a whole new wave of kids that are nine, 10, 11 years old now, looking up at these 15-year olds as their idols. That's what happens in China. They're put up on a pedestal, and they're held in such high regard and respected.

Q: How long will it be before we see a Chinese major champion?
Norman: You have to be realistic. Look at Sweden. In a period of 25 years, they went from zero to hero. Small population base, but they were committed to promoting and growing the game through academies and foundations and programs, and now they have several players on Tour and a big stars in Henrik Stenson and Annika Sorenstam. You don't know when its gonna come, but it will come.

Q: Is China the lynchpin of the golf's growth and continued success? Are the Olympics?
Norman: The Olympics was the accelerator, but China is not the lynchpin. With the recession, disposable income is eliminated, so you drop your golf course membership, but we'll find that the game of golf will pick up again in the U.S. It's an amenity that people love (GOLF, 12/13).

Pan Am Games Deputy Health Minister SAAD RAFI replaces TO2015 CEO IAN TROOP on Jan. 6 “as the organization begins to move from the planning stage to the operation stage in advance of the Games,” said a statement released by the committee Friday. Former premier and current TO2015 board Chair DAVID PETERSON -- who will act as interim CEO -- said that the group "opted for Rafi because of his skill set." They "replaced Troop because they are now moving into a crucial stage with the Games and the long-time bureaucrat can do the job" (TORONTO SUN, 12/13). ... Wales rugby coach WARREN GATLAND "has signed a long-term contract to remain as the head coach" until after the 2019 World Cup. The new deal "will take Gatland's Wales tenure to 12 years, extending what is already a record stint in the role in Wales' history" (PA, 12/16). ... Denmark coach MORTEN OLSEN "has signed a two-year contract extension," keeping him in the job until June '16. Olsen, 64, "has been in charge of the European nation for 13 years, guiding them to two World Cups and two European Championships" (ESPN, 12/12). ... Argentine first division side River Plate "has a new president" after RODOLFO D'ONOFRIO won the election "in a record vote with more than 17 thousand members." D'Onofrio will "lead the club for the next four years" (CLARIN, 12/15). ... La Liga side Valencia fired coach MIROSLAV DJUKIC on Monday following a 3-0 loss to Atlético Madrid. Valencia President AMADEO SALVO announced that Djukic would "not complete the contract he signed last offseason" to guide the team through June" (AP, 12/16). ... Super League rugby side Salford Red Devils “have continued their back-room re-organisation” with the appointment of MARTIN VICKERS as new CEO. Vickers takes over for DAVE MATTHEWS, who will become the CFO as part of Owner MARWAN KOUKASH’s “ambitious plans” to turn the Red Devils into “potential champions” (SKY SPORTS, 12/13).

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Hockey India League franchise Delhi Waveriders announced that actor JOHN ABRAHAM "is its co-owner and will support the team from the sidelines in the second edition of the tournament starting Jan 25." It was also made public that former India coach CEDRIC D'SOUZA "will coach the team," replacing AJAY KUMAR BANSAL (IANS, 12/16). ... Dutch national team coach GUUS HIDDINK "will return as coach" after the 2014 World Cup. According to Dutch media reports, Hiddink "will sign a four-year contract, the first two years as head coach and the last two years as technical supervisor." He "might succeed" LOUIS VAN GAAL, who already announced he will quit after the forthcoming World Cup (XINHUA, 12/16).

RONALDO'S WORLD: Real Madrid and Portugal's CRISTIANO RONALDO "has realised his project of opening a museum in his honour in his birthplace of Madeira -- complete with extra space allocated for this year’s Ballon d’Or." Standing next to his '08 trophy for Europe’s best player and 125 other individual and team awards dating back to his childhood, the 28-year-old said that the CR7 Museum "was a gift to his fans" (London TELEGRAPH, 12/16). ... Ronaldo also "has been named World Player of the Year by football magazine, 'World Soccer.'" He beat out Barcelona’s LIONEL MESSI and Bayern Munich’s FRANK RIBERY.  Former Bayern Munich Manager JUPP HEYNCKES won the Manager of the Year award, followed by Borussia Dortmund's JÜRGEN KLOPP and Atlético Madrid's DIEGO SIMEONE. Bayern Munich was named the Team of the Year (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 12/13).

CRICKET NAMES: West Indies off-spinner SHANE SHILLINGFORD "has been banned from bowling in international matches due to an illegal action." The Int'l Cricket Council announced the suspension on Monday "following an independent biomechanical analysis of his action -- and that of teammate Marlon Samuels -- in Perth" (AAP, 12/16). ... WILLIAM PORTERFIELD has been named captain of the ICC Intercontinental Cup '11-13 Team of the Tournament. Other Ireland players include ANDREW WHITE and GEORGE DOCKRELL. Middle-order batsman RAHMAT SHAH and fast bowlers IZATULLAH DAWLATZAI and DALWAT ZADRAN will represent Afghanistan (ICC).

London Daily Mirror's OLIVER HOLT: "I hold no particular brief for AVB but if the club sells its best player in the summer and buys half a new team, difficult to shoot for top"

Bloomberg's TARIQ PANJA: "Sao Paulo dep-mayor says F1 drivers voted Interlagos best organised race of the year. Weird - many complaints from garage staff this year"

London Daily Mirror's OLIVER HOLT: "Hope Hoddle gets Spurs job. Man management always his weak point but old enough to have learned lesson now. Great football brain"

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